When a company is interested in creating jobs in Northern Ireland, Assured Skills provides the necessary support to deliver a skilled workforce through the delivery of bespoke training programmes.

What is the Assured Skills programme?

The Assured Skills programme is a joint programme between the Department for the Economy (DfE) Northern Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland.

The Assured Skills programme seeks to assure potential investors, and existing employers considering expansion, that the skills they need to support a growing business can be found in Northern Ireland. It does this by employing all of DfE’s responsibilities for the higher and further education sectors and the Department’s skills and training programmes.

Assured Skills supports the company’s business plan by:

  • adding value to their training and skills development activity by facilitating links with the further education and university sectors
  • designing bespoke training solutions
  • supporting recruitment and other pre-employment activities

This is Northern Ireland video

Who is eligible for support from Assured Skills?

New inward investors, or existing employers considering expansion, who are Invest Northern Ireland clients may be eligible for support from Assured Skills.

How to apply

Please contact your Invest Northern Ireland Client Executive in the first instance. The Client Executive will be able to advise if Assured Skills is relevant to your needs and contact the Assured Skills team accordingly. If you do not have an Invest Northern Ireland Client Executive, please e-mail assuredskills@economy-ni.gov.uk directly.

What funding is available?

Funding will be provided by DfE to support the training and skills development activity of companies.

Assured Skills funding may be classified as State Aid under the General Block Exemption Regulations and, as such, companies must meet the criteria set out by the European Commission. However, the Department will guide you on EU requirements during the course of a project. 

Video Case Studies – Assured Skills support for new investors

FinTrU

Alexander Mann Solutions  

Video Case Studies - Assured Skills support for indigenous companies

The Assured Skills Academy Model

Under the Assured Skills “Academy Model”, where a company or a consortium of companies have an identified skills need, DfE will consider developing a bespoke short-term training intervention to meet that need.

This typically involves an eight to ten week bespoke pre-employment training programme delivered by a local college or university, followed by a four to six week placement with a participating company. The intervention is designed to lower the recruitment risk for companies by providing candidates trained with the exact skills for the opportunities that are available.

The Academy Model is flexible and versatile, and has been used to help companies recruit new staff in areas such as: 

  • data analytics
  • human resources
  • legal services
  • financial services
  • sales
  • software development
  • software testing
  • cyber security
  • welding
  • control numerical control machining,
  • 2D animation 
  • game development

How the Academy Model helps companies

The benefits of the Academy Model for companies include:

  • assistance with recruitment and selection (including psychometric assessment if required)
  • a bespoke training programme designed by the company/companies in conjunction with a local college or university
  • the training programme delivered by the college/university with input from the company/companies
  • the company/companies interview the trainees at the end of the programme
  • the Department meets almost all of the costs associated with the intervention

How the Academy Model helps candidates

If you are unemployed, under-employed, a school leaver, a graduate or have experience and would like to change direction in your career, then the innovative Academy Model may be what you are looking for. The Academy Model will support you into employment by providing the skills that expanding companies want.

The vast majority of Academy programmes have been aimed at providing graduate level opportunities for unemployed graduates. Across the last two years alone, the Academies have helped graduates secure jobs in diverse sectors such as data analytics, human resources, financial services, sales, software development, software testing, cyber security, 2D animation and game development.

Your existing qualifications are important but, whatever your vocational area, the companies the Department work with want employees with the drive and determination to succeed, and a positive attitude to take on new challenges.

The Academies have an 80 per cent success rate of participants progressing into full time employment.

Previous participants continue to recommend Assured Skills Academies as great opportunities to develop skills and start new careers.

The Academy Model has been in existence for several years and has proved extremely successful in matching the skill sets of academy participants with industry needs. This is vital to ensure that Northern Ireland remains an attractive location for inward investment as we continue to grow our local economy.

Current academies are advertised in local newspapers and online resources including jobcentreonline, nidirect, nijobs, recruitni and social media.

The Software Testers’ Academy

The Software Testers’ Academy was the first Academy Model programme. Four cohorts have taken place since 2011, and almost 40 different companies, both large and small, have used the Software Testers’ Academy to meet their recruitment needs. The following video case studies give some employers' perspectives of the Software Testers’ Academy:

Assured Skills contact details

To find out more about the programme contact the Assured Skills Team:

Assured Skills State Aid

Assured Skills provides assistance to those existing companies wishing to expand and potential new inward investors looking to locate their business in Northern Ireland.

 
UK State Aid Reference Number X355/2010
Member state United Kingdom
Region Northern Ireland
Title of Aid Scheme Assured Skills
Legal Basis

Employment and Training Act (Northern Ireland 1950 (Chapter 29)

European Communities Act 1972

EC Legal Basis All aid provided under this Scheme will be within the limits set out in Articles 2 and 31 of Commission Regulation (EU) 651/2014 (General Block Exemption Regulation)
Objective of the scheme The Assured Skills programme is designed to confirm to both existing firms wishing to expand and potential new inward investors that we can provide the necessary support to deliver the skilled workforce that they require. The outcome of which will be increased employment for the region.
Granting Authority Name Department for the Economy (DfE)

Eligible activities to be supported under the Scheme

Assured Skills provides assistance to those existing companies wishing to expand and potential new inward investors looking to locate their business in Northern Ireland.

Training aid will be provided to companies to train staff for any new jobs created up to a maximum of €2m and will be based on a percentage of the overall costs in line with set European Commission criteria.

The eligible costs of a supported project are:

  • trainers’ personal costs, for the hours during which the trainers participate in the training
  • trainers’ and trainees’ operating costs directly relating to the training project such as travel expenses, materials and supplies directly related to the project, depreciation of tools and equipment, to the extent that they are used exclusively for the training project
  • accommodation costs are excluded except for the minimum necessary accommodation costs for trainees’ who are workers with disabilities
  • costs of advisory services linked to the training project
  • trainees’ personnel costs and general indirect costs (administrative costs, rent, overheads) for the hours during which the trainees’ participate in the training

The aid intensity shall not exceed 50 per cent of the eligible costs. It may be increased, up to a maximum aid intensity of 70 per cent of the eligible costs as follows:

  • by 10 percentage points if the training is given to workers with disabilities or disadvantaged workers
  • by 10 percentage points if the aid is granted to medium sized enterprises and by 20 percentage points if the aid is granted to small enterprises

Scope of the scheme

The Scheme will be open to small medium enterprises and large companies throughout Northern Ireland other than those in sectors prohibited under the General Block Exemption Regulations. Aid will not be allowed for the following activities:

  • aid to export related activities, namely aid directly linked to the quantities exported, to the establishment and operation of a distribution network or to other current costs linked to the export activity
  • aid contingent upon the use of domestic over imported goods.

Also, aid may not be given where the proposed recipient of the aid is:

  • subject to an outstanding order for the recovery of aid which has been declared by the Commission to be illegal and incompatible with the common market
  • 'a firm in difficulty' within the meaning of Chapter 2 of the Community guidelines on State aid for rescuing and restructuring firms in difficulty (OJC 244, 1.10.2004)

Date and period of the Scheme

Support under this Scheme may be granted until 31 December 2020.

Budget for aid under the Scheme

DfE, at its discretion, will grant fund projects from its annual departmental budgets under this legal framework. The maximum allocation of funds under this scheme over the period July 2014 to December 2020 has been estimated at £15m.

Form of aid

All aid awarded under the Scheme will be transparent and in line with criteria set out in Articles 2 and 31 of the General Block Exemption Regulation. Aid will be awarded by way of a grant.

Monitoring and reporting requirements

All recipients of aid under the scheme will be informed that aid has been provided under the Scheme pursuant to Articles 2 and 31 of Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 (General Block Exemption Regulation).

Eligible costs will be transparent and directly and exclusively related to the project being funded.

Records will be kept for 10 years from the date the last aid award provided under the Scheme is given. Records will be sufficiently detailed to establish that the conditions of the scheme are met.

An annual report on the expenditure under this Scheme will be provided to the Commission.

On written request, DfE will provide the Commission within a period of 20 working days or such longer period as may be fixed in the request, with all the information which the Commission considers necessary to monitor the application of the General Block Exemption Regulation.

Where DfE does not provide the information requested within the period prescribed by the Commission or within a commonly agreed period, or where DfE provides incomplete information, the Commission will send a reminder setting a new deadline for the submission of the information.

If, despite such reminder, DfE does not provide the information requested, the Commission may, after having provided the Member State concerned with the possibility to make its views known, adopt a decision stating that all or part of the future aid measures to which the Regulation applies are to be notified to the Commission in accordance with Article 88(3) of the Treaty.

 

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