Fund cuts for adult apprentices in Northern Ireland
Thousands of adult apprentices in Northern Ireland are set to be denied funding for their training.
It is due to a new Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) rule which will affect new applicants from the end of August.
It is part of a drive to concentrate on school leavers rather than on adults working in what the DEL describes as not "economically important" areas.
DEL said the cut follows a review of the skills needed by the local economy.
From the end of August, those wanting to start an adult apprenticeship, and who are more than 25 years old, will only have their day release courses paid for if they are working in areas like engineering, IT and the manufacture of food and drink.
Those already on adult apprenticeships will be funded until completion of their current courses.
The list of those ruled out under the new arrangements include those in child care and nursing homes, where many women return to the workplace.
The People First training company has more than 400 trainees who would no longer be eligible.
Their training will continue to be funded but after the end of August, new recruits will not be paid for.
The company's director Ronan Heenan said they had been expecting a cut, but the news still came as a shock.
He said it would have a major impact on his business: "We are a bit perplexed at the list of jobs which the department considers economically important.
"We feel there are jobs left off that list which should be included."
The Glasswater nursing home near Crossgar in County Down has sent 11 of its carer staff for NVQ training.
That will no longer be funded and its assistant manager Geri Birt said it would make it more difficult and costly to bring all their workers' skills up to national standards.