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Economy Minister Diane Dodds today launched the Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Awards 2021.

The Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Awards 2021 will recognise excellence in apprenticeships and culminate in a special ‘virtual’ awards ceremony on Wednesday 28 April 2021 – one of the highlight events during Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week 2021, which will run from 26 to 30 April 2021.

Launching the awards, the Minister said: “Developing the skills of our people right across Northern Ireland is a key priority for me as we begin the process of rebuilding our economy and I am determined to keep skills at the centre of our long term strategic plans. The Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Awards are about showcasing the very best within our apprenticeship programmes and the opportunities available.

“I would encourage apprentices, employers and training providers who are working in the wide range of apprenticeships available across Northern Ireland to share with us their apprenticeship experiences by entering the Apprenticeship Awards competition. We want to celebrate the talent, skills and benefits to be gained by participating on our apprenticeship programmes with apprentices, employers and training providers.”

Dr Bryan Keating from the awards judging panel commented: “Apprenticeships have always been valuable pathways, earning whilst learning, for long and rewarding careers. Employers benefit from the talent apprentices bring to their businesses. And Northern Ireland’s economy also grows with improved skills. Today’s apprentices can now experience, enjoy and gain even more from the new apprenticeship offerings including High Level Apprenticeships.”

Applications are now open for the four award categories:

• Apprentice of the Year (Levels 2-3);

• Higher Level Apprentice of the Year (Level 4+);

• Large Employer Award (employers with more than 250 employees); and

• Small Medium Enterprises Award (employers with fewer than 250 employees).

The closing date for applications is noon on Friday 22 January 2021.

Full details on application criteria for each of the awards and how to apply are available at https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/niapprenticeshipawards2021