Vodafone launches apprentice pilot scheme as part of software engineer drive


UK operator Vodafone has drafted training firm Multiverse to skill up apprentices within 15 months, as part of its drive to add 7000 software engineers to its workforce.

Apparently the 15 month training time represents a 68% reduction compared to how long it would normally take apprentices to be trained up to the junior software engineer level. The pilot programme is being pitched as an alternative to going to university for young people, and starts off with a three-month bootcamp followed by a 12-month work placement.

Multiverse – not to be confused with the theoretical model that describes parallel universes – apparently trains over 8,000 tech, leadership and digital apprentices at more than 500 companies, and applications for the new scheme will open in November.

Previously Vodafone launched its ‘Digital and Technology Solutions Degree Apprenticeship’ programme, a 36-48 month course delivering a Level 6 degree qualification. This all forms part of Vodafone’s pledge to add 7,000 odd software engineers to its European technical workforce by 2025, which it aims to do through a combination of recruitment, re-skilling existing employees and insourcing.

The reason for doing so appears to be an attempt by the operator to add more strings to its bow beyond just connectivity, and be in a position to offer a wider set of digital and software products to customers. This is not a modest ambition, and would presumably involve quite a lot of cultural and structural changes to how it has operated thus far – but if that’s what they want to be, they do of course need the talent in place.

“Last year we committed to adding nearly 7,000 software engineers to our expanding European-wide technical workforce by 2025,” said Ahmed El Sayed, Vodafone’s Global Engineering Director and UK Chief Information Officer. “This means adopting a ‘build not buy’ approach, whereby we develop more of our own products and services in-house, to give us more control and help us respond to the needs of our customers more effectively.

“This programme is a key part of a broader plan to deliver on that commitment in the UK. Not only will it support building future capability and diverse talent pipelines, it will allow us to put a strategic focus on building critical skills at pace and fast tracking engineers, while increasing the diversity of our technology function. Since the introduction of this programme, around 55% of applicants have been women, which is fantastic, and we are looking forward to what we believe will be a very successful partnership with Multiverse.”

Jeremy Duggan, President of Multiverse added: “Despite being one of the fastest growing and most in-demand skills of today’s economy, software engineers remain in short supply – a gap that traditional graduate hiring cannot plug. Forward-thinking companies like Vodafone are growing their hiring pool and building skills in-house through the use of professional apprenticeships. We’re delighted to partner with them on this world-class programme that will not only create career opportunities for young professionals, but will also grow the in-house capabilities of the business.”

Elsewhere, Vodafone has today put out a release regarding its involvement in projects alongside global bodies such as UNESCO which look at cultivating ‘universal smartphone access.’ A study has been ratified which is supposed to look at developing practical measures to enable nearly 3 billion more people to access and use the internet through a smartphone by 2030, based on the idea that apparently a third of the global population still cannot or do so.

The report found that limited affordability and availability of smartphones in areas, along with ‘low consumer confidence’ are limiting internet adoption in areas such as South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa. The action points it describes are:

  • Initiate win-win partnerships with players across the digital value chain
  • Improve recycling regulation and develop quality standards for pre-owned smartphones
  • Develop strategies for recycling of mid- and low-tier devices
  • Explore the use of Universal Service Funds and other government subsidies
  • Further explore the economic benefits of reducing tax and import duties on smartphones

Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone Group said: “Access to the internet, and smartphones, are critical enablers of jobs, education, healthcare, financial services and much more. We need focused partnerships between business, government and civil society to drive smartphone adoption, through the five actions we have identified, to ensure we enable the transformative benefits of internet adoption for billions of people.”

All laudable and ambitious stuff. With involvement in projects that aim to get 3 billion people hooked up to the internet whilst simultaneously attempting to transform itself into some sort of software player, you certainly can’t accuse Vodafone of sitting still at the moment.


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