Virgin Media O2 creates 350 apprenticeships as the ‘Retrain Revolution’ sweeps the UK

The cost-of-living crisis sees 50% or workers looking to upskill in 2023

With almost half (49%) of the UK workforce saying they want to retrain or study for a new qualification during the cost-of-living crisis, Virgin Media O2 is creating around 350 apprenticeships in 2023 – with salaries well above the UK average for apprentices.

A new study reveals one in five workers – 6.5 million– feel they’re not paid enough in their current role to cover higher bills due to the rising cost of living. More than a fifth want to retrain to earn more money and increase their job stability. However, having the time to retrain (28%) and the cost (23%) is putting people off.

The research, commissioned to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week (February 6-12), highlights how many workers are not considering apprenticeships as an option to help them retrain, upskill, or gain qualifications due to misconceptions.

Though most of the UK workforce say apprenticeships are a great way to learn new skills whilst getting paid (88%), and supply real-life skills that academic study can’t provide (82%), seven in 10 workers believe apprenticeships are poorly paid. In comparison, 60% are concerned apprenticeships don’t offer guaranteed job security.

Further, just under half (47%) feel apprenticeships aren’t available in the field of work they’re interested in, are mostly temporary roles (47%) or are only for young people (46%). 

Virgin Media O2’s new apprenticeship roles

In contrast to these concerns, Virgin Media O2 is creating a wide range of apprenticeship roles across its business with a starting salary of at least £19,000 and up to £30,000 – well above the UK’s average for an apprenticeship scheme.

All roles are offered on a permanent basis providing job security, with Virgin Media O2 investing heavily in the programme to ensure learners have the skills they need to thrive in their future careers. Throughout their scheme, each apprentice is provided with training and support worth between £5,000 – £25,000.

And, despite concerns that apprenticeships are only for school leavers, there is no upper age limit on applications. Current Virgin Media O2 apprentices range from 18-53 years old, with 45% of the business’ 2022 intake being 25 years old or above.

Karen Handley, Head of Future Careers at Virgin Media O2, said: “A retrain revolution is sweeping the UK in these challenging times as millions of people across the country worry about their finances and are looking at how they can learn more to earn more and have greater job security but, at the same time, are concerned that training will take too much time or money.

“That’s why we’re proud to be creating hundreds of new apprenticeships at Virgin Media O2 this year with great salaries, offering fantastic opportunities for people to learn new skills – from building our gigabit broadband network to project management – with a guaranteed job at the end.

“Our apprenticeships are for everyone, and we welcome people of all ages and backgrounds to apply – as we keep working hard to create an environment where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.”

Since 2008, Virgin Media O2 has created more than 2,400 apprenticeship roles. With no prior experience necessary, past and present apprentices have come from various backgrounds and careers – including former dancers, taxi drivers and admin workers.

The currently available apprenticeship roles include mobile Radio Planning and Radio Delivery, where successful applicants will support the rollout of Virgin Media O2’s 5G mobile network, and Technical Design and Access Transmission Delivery, where apprentices will learn to deliver connectivity solutions that support its business customers.

Through all Virgin Media O2’s apprenticeship schemes, available right across the UK, apprentices will learn in-demand skills and get into careers which would, in some instances, require a degree Many of the schemes require no prior qualifications or 5 GCSE grades 4-9 (or equivalent Level 2 qualification).

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