HATS Network welcomes widened access to apprenticeships for all ages

The Hospitality and Tourism Skills (HATS) Network has welcomed the announcement by the Department for the Economy to introduce All Age Apprenticeships – a move which will better support businesses in building the skills needed for growth.  

The Department for the Economy announced last week (08 September 2023) that it will now fully fund the off-the-job training element of an apprenticeship under the ApprenticeshipsNI programme regardless of age. This opens the door to create apprenticeship opportunities for those aged 25 and above, which the sector has long argued will better support skills development and encourage a more inclusive workforce.

Having championed the move to extend the age-related criteria by representing the views of the sector through policy exchanges with the Department for the Economy and ministers, the HATS Network believes All Age Apprenticeships represent strong opportunities for the sector: 

Roisin McKee, Project Director, HATS Network comments:

“Apprenticeships are an excellent way to create engaged, highly skilled employees armed with the best knowledge and behaviour for their role and sector. They help businesses to build a fantastic pipeline of talent and offer positive impacts on retention and productivity gains.

“All Age Apprenticeships will create a new route for entrants over 25 and provide a visible career development pathway for all people regardless of age.

“We welcome the department’s decision to fund All Age Apprenticeships and believe they will play an important role in addressing skills gaps and shortages and in increasing the diversity of our workforce.”

Mckeever Hotels who already invest in apprenticeships believe the move to All Age Apprenticeships will actively support attraction and retention and plan to embrace the age-criteria extension. Martin Toner, Group HR Manager, McKeever Hotels adds:

“We’ve seen first-hand the benefits that apprenticeships bring. They have supported us in attracting new talent and developing the skills of our existing workforce and have provided a fantastic route to support the career progression of our team.

“The extension to the age-criteria means we can now open these opportunities more widely within our business which offers a greater opportunity to support our recruitment and retention efforts, enhance employee development and build management and leadership capabilities.”

The HATS Network Skills Action Plan aspires to raise the reputation of apprenticeships offered within the sector so that they are recognised as high quality programmes which are valued by both employers and learners offering the opportunity for development and progression.

To find out how apprenticeships can support your business, visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/apprenticeships

To find out more, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.


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