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Economy Minister Diane Dodds today launched a £250,000 fund to help non-statutory training providers meet the additional costs resulting from ensuring compliance with public health regulations as a result of Covid-19.

The Minister said: “Non-statutory training providers are a key part of our skills landscape and play a vital role in delivering the skills necessary to grow the Northern Ireland economy. Skills development will play a vital role in underpinning Northern Ireland’s economic recovery following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. I am determined to do all I can to support training providers to continue to play this vital role.

“I have therefore asked my officials to develop a fund to assist with the increased expenditure required for adaptions to premises and for the purchasing of PPE needed to guarantee the safety of all staff and learners.

“I would like to extend my thanks to training providers who have risen to the challenge of undertaking the necessary adaptions to protect all those in the non-statutory sector and ensuring continued delivery during a very challenging time.”

Applications are open to all non-statutory Training for Success and ApprenticeshipsNI providers. Providers will be invited to submit a claim form to apply for funding and payments will be made by April 2021. £250,000 of funding will be available and the fund will open for applications until 26 February 2021.

The launch of the fund follows the implementation by the Department of a package of supplier relief measures to ensure the continued economic viability of non-statutory training providers and Disability Support Service contractors during the pandemic. The Department has also provided funding for a Digital Hardship Fund to purchase equipment and support connectivity for online learning for disadvantaged learners in the non-statutory sector.