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Business

Belfast employers urged to embrace apprenticeships to avoid skills shortage

Two Belfast business leaders have called on the city's employers to embrace apprenticeships in a bid to avoid a skills shortage
Gareth McKeown

TWO Belfast business leaders have called on the city's employers to tap into local talent in a bid to avoid a skills shortage.

Carson McMullan, Northern Ireland consultant to the British International Freight Association (BIFA) and Sally Gilson, the head of skills at Freight Transport Association (FTA), have challenged companies across Belfast to embrace apprenticeships as a way to tackle the recruitment difficulties experienced by many firms in the north.

“Businesses that are not offering apprenticeships are missing a massive opportunity and we risk a skills shortage across a range of sectors," Mr McMullan said.

"We have a good education system in Northern Ireland that produces a large pool of well-educated young people looking to enter the work place through on-the-job training. A trainee progressing through their apprenticeship will develop a loyalty to the company and it is incalculable as to the benefits that a business will reap from a well-structured apprenticeship."

Northern Ireland has seen a steady decline in unemployment in recent years, but a 2017 CBI NI survey suggested that the north is facing a growing skills shortage. Ms Gilson believes employers have an opportunity to help plan their business' future through an apprentice programme.

“There are positive reasons to make the most of apprenticeships, they offer a fully funded option for attracting younger people and although training of this nature has generally been overlooked by not only the logistics sector but other sectors too those that have embraced it are reaping the benefits," she said.

The call for more apprenticeships comes as Seetec, which operates across Belfast recruiting as part of the government-backed ApprenticeshipsNI programme, revealed that 247 young people have expressed an interest in an apprenticeship.

Seetec operations manager, Julie Gorman, added:

"The desire for 16 to 24-year-olds to take this path to a career is there and it is now an opportunity for businesses to create opportunities for talented individuals to progress with their company."

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