New advice-sector scheme allows trainees to ‘learn while they earn’

A NEW training scheme by Advice NI is putting 15 unemployed people on the path to delivering advice.
The innovative traineeship programme, funded by the Department for Communities is a first by Advice NI and is designed to give valuable new skills to people with little to no background in advice giving. The scheme will be delivered across Northern Ireland through the Independent Advice Network.
 
Advice NI expects demand for advice services to increase dramatically as people and businesses come to terms with the impact that Covid-19 has on their lives.
 
Sinéad Campbell, Advice NI’s Head of Money, Debt and Quality, explains why the traineeship is so timely.
 
“We are delighted to be able to offer this opportunity, especially during the uncertainty of Covid-19. Historically, it has been difficult to recruit advisers and we hope through this scheme we will be able to support the trainees gain long-term employment. This six-month scheme will allow the trainee to earn while they learn,” she said.
 
The programme is being delivered locally through Advice NI’s network of members across Northern Ireland. The trainees will participate in an intense six-month accredited training, development and mentoring programme so that they will be able to give confidential advice on various topics. The trainees will be full time and will receive the living wage.
 
Advice NI believes that once the government and regulator protective schemes end, there will be an increase in advice services. To ensure people know where to get help, Advice NI will embark in a Northern Ireland wide promotional campaign to raise aware of the free, confidential debt and money advice service.

Chief Executive Bob Stronge said "We are only too aware of the cliff edge people face due to redundancy, mounting debt, isolation, lack of employment and ongoing childcare crisis. Also, we are coming up to Christmas which means colder weather, increased utility costs and of course for many buying presents. This Traineeship programme will provide the participants with skills to help them secure longer term employment, as well as ensure that the advice sector is prepared as demand increases.”

Commenting on the project Minister for Communities, Carál Ní Chuilín, said: “I am pleased to have been able to commit additional funding for much needed advice, money and debt services across our communities.
 
“We know that so many people will be negatively affected by the economic impact of the pandemic in terms of their incomes and this innovative approach to widening the pool of advisers, whilst giving people out of work an opportunity to train and earn a living wage is great to see.
 
“I look forward to seeing all of those participating in the programme gaining valuable skills and experience to help them progress into good work opportunities on completion of their training.” 

 
End
 
Advice NI operates Northern Ireland wide offering a free, confidential and impartial debt and money advice for individuals and businesses through face-to-face appointments with advisers (where possible), a telephone helpline and online. Participating advice centres are Community Advice Fermanagh, Community Advice Craigavon, Mid and East Antrim Community Advice, Community Advice Newry Mourne and Down, Omagh Independent Advice Services, NIACRO, Community Advice Antrim and Newtownabbey, Community Advice Causeway, Limavady Community Development Initiative, East Belfast Independent Advice Centre, Springfield Charitable Association, Community Advice Lisburn and Castlereagh, Vine Centre, Community Advice Ards and North Down and South Tyrone Empowerment Programme (STEP).
 
Meanwhile, for help accessing free money and debt advice call 0800 915 4604 or email advice@adviceni.net
 
Notes:
  1. For further information contact Kerry McKittrick, Advice NI Communications Officer on 028 9064 5919
  2. Advice NI is the umbrella body for the Independent Advice Network in Northern Ireland and its members dealt with 404,594 enquiries in 2018/19, the majority being social security benefits related. For more information log on to www.adviceni.net.
  3. Advice NI’s Freephone helpline number for all our advice services is 0800 915 4604. You can call this number 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday for free and impartial advice on benefits, HMRC products, non-medical Covid-19 matters, the EU Settlement Scheme as well as personal and business debt.