The operator says that it has launched a quintet of new paid apprentice schemes, aiming to nurture the next generation of telecoms talent

This week, Virgin Media O2 (VMO”) has announced that launch of five new apprenticeship schemes, set to focus on digital marketing, cyber security, quantity surveying, network cabling and DevOps.
These new schemes will run in addition to the 40 the company already offers in these crucial areas, with VMO2 also running alternative schemes for network engineering roles.
Apprentices will reportedly be paid a minimum annual salary of £19,000, with the company seeking to fill an additional 70 roles in total, adding to the 450 apprentices it has taken on since June 2021.
“We’re on a mission to upgrade the UK, and are recruiting talented people to make this happen,” said Karen Handley, Head of Future Careers at Virgin Media O2. “With thousands of people finishing school or college and receiving their A-Level results, there has never been a better time to join us as an apprentice where you can earn whilst you learn. Whether it’s cyber security or network engineering, digital marketing or planning, at Virgin Media O2 we’re constantly expanding our array of apprenticeship programmes to help our people develop the skills they need for the future.”
VMO2’s decision to announce this expansion at the same time as UK students receive their A-Level results is no coincidence.
This year, despite top grades falling compared to 2021, UCAS figures show that around 425,000 students achieved the grades required to go to university, the second highest amount ever in the UK.
However, in contrast to enduring popularity of going to university, recent studies have shown that teenagers are increasingly concerned about securing a career path earlier in life, potentially concurrently with their studies. An 800-person study conducted by VMO2 itself found that more than a quarter (27%) of teens aged 11 to 18-years-old felt that university was not the right choice unless it led directly towards a career. The cost-of-living crisis was also a major concern, with 31% of respondents in the study saying they felt the economic environment meant that university was not longer a good idea.
Parents, however, still view university as superior to apprenticeships and other work schemes, with 41% of parents saying they hoped their child would go to university, versus just 21% that would like to see them do an apprenticeship.
VMO2 itself suggests that this study indicates that there are still negative misconceptions attached to the idea of apprenticeships – something they hope to change with their own schemes.
“Apprenticeships are still a confusing concept to many parents and potential apprentices – but they offer a great alternative to university,” said Handley. “There is a common misconception in the UK that apprenticeships are only for traditional trades such as plumbing or hairdressing – but in actual fact, there are many opportunities available in fields as broad as cyber security, marketing, and IT.”
With finding the next generation of telecoms professionals a constant thorn in the industry’s side, VMO2 will be hopeful that the expansion of their apprenticeship programmes will help alleviate some of their recruitment pressure in the years to come, particularly in increasingly crucial areas like software development and cybersecurity.
Are UK operators doing enough to nurture the next generation of telecoms professionals? Join the experts in discussion at this year’s Connected Britain conference