Find answers to our most frequently asked questions, asked by both apprentices and employers within the motor vechicle industry.

Apprentice FAQs

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What is an Apprenticeship in a nutshell?

An apprenticeship is not a work placement, it is paid employment that also allows you to train and gain a qualification as you work. You are first and foremost an employee of a company. Your employer will work with a training provider to help you improve/practise your skills and gain the Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications too.

What are the entry requirements for an Apprenticeship?

We would like to you to have attempted at least 4 GCSEs; however, we are more interested in seeing the potential of good practical skills, an interest in working for the motor industry, and a good work ethic. Attitude is key – we will teach you the rest.

What happens after I apply for a course with Riverpark?

As soon as we receive your application, we will be in touch with you to arrange an interview at our facility in Mallusk, not far from Belfast. The interview will consist of an aptitude test (designed to evaluate your current skill/knowledge level) and an interview with your potential vocational Tutor and the Training and Development Coordinator. The interview is the perfect opportunity to clarify your understanding of the courses we offer and how apprenticeships work.

How do I find a job?

We strongly recommend that before you attend an interview, you research the potential employers in your local area and, if you’re brave enough, contact them to see if they would be interested in taking you on as an apprentice. We will also have a list of employers who have told us that they are interested in taking on an apprentice and will share this with you at the interview. You are never alone in your job search and we will always be available to advise you and help you when needed.

How much will I earn during my apprenticeship?

Initially, your employer must pay you £3.90 per hour regardless of your age (16-24); however, if you are 19, after 1 year you are entitled to the national minimum wage. After completing your apprenticeship your employer will pay you as per how productive you are. Currently technicians are earning up to £14.00 per with bonus on top, that’s a basic yearly salary of £27,000+.

Will I be entitled to holiday pay and a workplace pension?

Yes, you will be entitled to holiday pay and a workplace pension as per PAYE regulations.

What qualifications will I be working towards and how long will it take?

All our qualifications are certificated through the awarding body IMI (The Institute of the Motor Industry) and recognised worldwide. They are vocational qualifications that mean you will need to pass practical assessments to achieve. We currently target all our vocational areas at Level 2 then progressing to Level 3. Level 3 is considered qualified technician level. Level 3 can also be used as an entry qualification to University.

How often do I need to attend training at Riverpark Training?

You will be required to attend directed training 4 days every 5 weeks, between 9 am and 4:30pm. If you choose a Parts Course then this is reduced to 2 days per month. Your employer will also pay you while you attend training at Riverpark.

How good is the training at Riverpark Training?

Riverpark Training is a highly-acclaimed Motor Vehicle Training Organisation based in Northern Ireland that is highly committed to personal development. We continually send our apprentices to skills competitions where they compete and win at National and International Level. Our latest inspection by the ETI (Education Training Inspectorate) deemed us as Very Good in our delivery at vocational level. A full report can be found at - https://www.etini.gov.uk/publications/apprenticeshipsni-provision-riverpark-training-and-development-ni-limited

If I don’t have the GCSE grades required in English and Maths, can I still apply?

To gain your full Level 2 Apprenticeship you will need to achieve a minimum of Essential Skills Level 1 in English, Maths and ICT. To achieve your full Level 3 Apprenticeship, you will need a minimum of Level 2 English, Level 2 Maths and ICT Level 1.

If you have GCSE grades A-C in these subjects then you are exempt.

Essential Skills training requirements may require you to attend additional training days over and above your vocational training. We will discuss this with your employer prior to the start of your directed training.

What happens if things go wrong in my apprenticeship and I can’t work with my employer?

Riverpark tutors will respond to situations quickly and we take our pastoral care very seriously. We will work with both you and your employer to resolve potential situations; a usual response time is within 2 hours. When no solution to your issues can be found, we will support you in finding another employer.

I still don’t really understand all this – what should I do next?

Contact us on 02890342400 or email clare@riverparktraining.com and we’ll be more than happy to answer any of your questions.

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Employer FAQs

Click on a question to reveal the answer. Please contact us if you have any other questions, we are always happy to help! Looking for student faqs?

Why should I consider taking on an apprentice?

Apprentices are a great way to fill in any current or future skills gaps your business may have. As employees, not work placement students, you will have more control over their development and work with us to ensure they meet your specific business requirements. With regular monitoring and progress reports/observations, we, at Riverpark, guarantee productive young people with a good work ethic.

How much do I have to pay an apprentice?

Apprentices are different to general employees as they need to be paid the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage: this is currently £3.90 per hour. If the apprentice is over 19 they can receive the apprenticeship minimum wage for 1 year then they are required to be paid national minimum wage.

What support will I receive as an employer while taking on an apprentice?

Riverpark Training will supply you with a detailed report every 6-8 weeks on your apprentice’s progression, skills learned, attendance, and attitude. Should there be any issues we will arrange a meeting at your convenience to address any pitfalls and ensure your apprentice has a plan to get back on the right track. Our tutors will engage directly with employers, apprentices, and parents - if necessary - to ensure smooth progression throughout the Apprentice’s journey.

There is also a £750 employer incentive payment paid by DfE (Department for the Economy) on completion of each qualification level. So, if your apprentice completes both level 2 and level 3, you will be eligible for £1500.

How long will it take before my apprentice is actually making me profit?

We target our apprentices to be self-sufficient after 3 months, and 100% productive after 3 years. So, a new apprentice should be 20% efficient (covering their costs) after 3 months and 50% efficient after 18 months (now generating approx. 25% profit). This should increase by 25% every 6-8 months making your then 3-year apprentice quite profitable to your business.

I have had apprentices before and they are more time and cost than they were worth, how can Riverpark Training guarantee that I won’t have the same experience again?

Firstly, we pride ourselves in interviewing every application prior to discussing any offer of employment; we vet all applications on this interview and supporting industry specific test. All applicants will receive the same questions at interview and will have to present themselves to 2 interviewers.

Secondly, some schemes available to young people offer work placement as opposed to employment. We have found that many young people become disillusioned with these schemes and employers also don’t have any direct obligation to keep the trainee. With an apprenticeship the employer employs the young person from day one hence a buy in from both parties. Of course, we can’t guarantee that you won’t have another bad experience but we will work hard to prevent it and support you if things become unworkable.

What happens if it doesn’t work out?

We will try to ensure that you as an employer don’t get to this stage but sometimes this is where we can end up. We will advise both yourself and your apprentice of the best way forward. Usually this is a mutual separation on both sides and we will provide support to both you as the employer and the apprentice to move on.

What legal requirements do I need to have in place prior to employing an apprentice?

You need to have Employers Liability Insurance and Public Liability Insurance. Your premises will need to have toilet and washing facilities and if employing female staff or disabled staff, separate toilet facilities to accommodate. All relevant Personal Protection Equipment must be available and your premises must comply with current Health and Safety Regulations. If necessary, Riverpark Training can visit your premises and provide further information and advice. When you employ your apprentice, you will need to sign a delivery agreement which creates the contract you will need between us you and the apprentice.

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