Get involved! – Dodds launches NI Apprenticeship Week 2021

Date published: 15 March 2021

Economy Minister Diane Dodds today announced that the second annual Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week will take place from 26 to 30 April 2021.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds with Will Bradley and Colleen O’Boyle, joint winners of the Higher Level Apprentice of the Year 2020.
Economy Minister Diane Dodds with Will Bradley and Colleen O’Boyle, joint winners of the Higher Level Apprentice of the Year 2020.

Led by the Department for the Economy, the annual week-long celebration aims to raise the profile of apprenticeships across Northern Ireland by bringing together partners including local councils, employers, universities, further education colleges and private training providers.

Through a series of mostly virtual events, the week will demonstrate the benefits of becoming an apprentice, and showcase how apprenticeships can work to strengthen and grow businesses, communities and the wider economy.

Launching NI Apprenticeship Week, Economy Minister Diane Dodds said:

“I am very pleased to launch Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week 2021. The week of virtual events will provide a great opportunity to raise the profile and showcase the very best within our apprenticeship programmes and the opportunities available. I would encourage everyone with an interest to get involved.

“Employers can strengthen and grow their teams with an apprentice, thereby developing the skills of our people right across Northern Ireland. Skills are a key priority for me as we begin the process of rebuilding our economy and I am determined to keep apprenticeships at the centre of our long term strategic plans.’’

The NI Apprenticeship Week programme of events will include a virtual recruitment day at The Craft Training Centre, with celebrity promotional videos including singers Nadine Coyle and Conor McGinty, and vice-captain of Derry City FC Ciaron Harkin. Also included will be a virtual ‘insight into EY’ event from accounting firm Ernst and Young with opportunities to hear from current apprentices and to learn about business areas and opportunities.

A dedicated website giving details of virtual events happening across Northern Ireland is available on the nidirect website. Apprenticeship partners are invited to get involved by hosting their own apprenticeship events or in collaboration with others. Anyone who would like to get involved should contact the Department by email at:

Central to the NI Apprenticeship Week will be the Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Awards 2021 which aims to recognise excellence in apprenticeships and culminates in a virtual awards ceremony on Wednesday 28 April 2021. Following the launch of the Awards on 16 December 2020 the three finalists for each of the award categories have now been selected.

Commenting on the Award nominations the Minister said:

“Once again the number and, in particular, the quality of nominations received for this prestigious competition demonstrates how apprenticeships can change the lives of businesses and apprentices. I would like to thank everyone who submitted a nomination and want to wish each finalist the very best of luck.”

The finalists for each award category are:

Apprentice Award 2021 Finalists: 

  • Chantelle McDonagh - An Tearmann (STEP) - Coalisland Training Services Ltd
  • Declan McEleney - Fleming Agri-Products Ltd - North West Regional College
  • Jonathan Hawthorne - Greiner Packaging Ltd - South West College

Higher Level Apprentice Award 2021 Finalists: 

  • Hannah Maneely - Nugent Engineering Ltd - South West College
  • James Matchett - Kainos Group plc - Ulster University
  • Barry Donnelly – Cundall - South West College

Large Employer Award 2021 Finalists: 

  • Allen & Overy in partnership with Belfast Metropolitan College
  • RYOBI Aluminium Casting (UK) Limited in partnership with Northern Regional College
  • Kainos Group plc in partnership with Ulster University

SME Employer Award 2021 Finalists: 

  • McKay Pharmacy in partnership with South Eastern Regional College
  • TBC Conversions in partnership with South West College
  • Specialist Joinery Group in partnership with Strabane Training Services

Notes to editors: 

1. *Picture captions:

(1) Pictured with the Economy Minister Diane Dodds at the launch of the NI Apprenticeship Week 2021 are Will Bradley and Colleen O’Boyle, joint winners of the Higher Level Apprentice of the Year 2020.

(2) Pictured with Economy Minister Diane Dodds at the launch of the NI Apprenticeship Week 2021 are Colleen O’Boyle and Will Bradley, joint winners of the Higher Level Apprentice of the Year 2020 along with Broadcaster and Apprenticeship Awards compere, Sarah Travers and judging panel member Bryan Keating

*(Photographs taken 14 December 2020)

2. The Department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the Department’s internal records management system. The Department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The Department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.

3. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at

4. Follow us on Twitter @Economy_NI or by using the hashtag #NIAW2021.

5. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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