This information about apprenticeships applies to Northern Ireland. 

March 2021: A new Apprenticeship Incentive Scheme is now open for applications. Find out more on the Northern Ireland Executive website.


In Northern Ireland the Apprenticeship Incentive Scheme is available to all employers to support the recruitment of new apprentices. 

As an employer, you will be eligible for up to £3,000 for each new apprenticeship opportunity created from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.

This bonus will apply to all new apprenticeship opportunities and includes apprentices who have been made redundant:

  • Payment 1 - £2,000 after 90 days retention following start* of new paid apprenticeship
  • Payment 2 - £1,000 after 200 days retention following start* of new paid apprenticeship

This scheme is open to employers who take on an apprentice participating in the Department for the Economy funded Apprenticeships NI or Higher-Level Apprenticeship programmes.

Currently in Northern Ireland, hair and beauty apprentices must be aged between 16 and 24. 

NHBF Members can download free deeds of apprenticeship for use in Northern Ireland.

The following hair and beauty apprenticeships are available in Northern Ireland, all at level 2 and level 3 frameworks:

  • Hairdressing
  • Barbering
  • Beauty therapy
  • Nail services
  • Spa therapy

Hair and beauty apprentices must complete level 2 before progressing to level 3. 

It usually takes up to two years to complete level 2 and up to four years to finish both levels. 

Getting started

You can advertise your apprenticeship opportunities free of charge at Connect to Success NI

If you want to take on an apprentice, or place a current employee on an apprenticeship programme, you will need to find an approved apprenticeship training contractor. 

Find approved contractors on the nidirect website


What happens next?

Your chosen training contractor will meet with you and your apprentice to develop a tailored training programme. 

You must contract your apprentice to work at least 21 hours a week, including day release for training. 

For more information download Apprenticeships in Northern Ireland  - A Guide for Employers from the Department for the Economy website. 

Apprenticeship funding in Northern Ireland

Funding for the ‘off-the-job’ element at framework levels 2 and 3 is provided through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund and Department for the Economy. 

An Employer Incentive Payment is available to employers whose apprentices successfully complete their level 2 or level 3. 

You must pay your apprentices at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for apprentices. Find out more about the NMW and apprentice rates. (Funding cannot be used to pay wages.) 

Apprenticeship levy

Employers with a pay bill of £3 million or over must pay 0.5% of their pay bill into a pot to help pay for apprenticeship training. This levy applies across the whole of the UK but how the funds can be used varies between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Large employers will have a £15,000 allowance to offset against their levy payment. 

For more information about the apprenticeship levy in Northern Ireland, download Apprenticeship Levy Frequently Asked Questions from the Department for the Economy website. 

Find out more about apprenticeships in the UK  

See our FAQ for more information