To help build the UK’s digital future, Vodafone has today announced new education and mentoring programmes developed for university students, digital entrepreneurs and Vodafone employees interested in a digital career.

These programmes form part of a package of measures to drive innovation and growth across the UK. With its track-record as a British communications and technology pioneer, Vodafone is uniquely positioned to help the UK expand its pipeline of digital talent and advance as a digital leader.

Adam Parsons, HR Director at Vodafone UK, said: “Digital sectors like artificial intelligence, cloud services and the Internet of Things represent exciting opportunities for the UK economy.

“The education and mentoring programmes we have created will help us to make the most of these opportunities. University students, digital entrepreneurs and Vodafone employees working in our retail stores and contact centres will be able to develop new skills and prepare for a digital future.”

Equipping university students with digital skills: Vodafone Digital Degree

The Vodafone Digital Degree was created to develop digital talent at university level. A partnership between Vodafone and the University of Birmingham,[i] the programme combines a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science with a technology apprenticeship at Vodafone.

16 Digital Degree Apprentices have been accepted into the programme and will attend the University of Birmingham full-time. During their four-year study period, Digital Degree Apprentices will receive a salary. There is a 10-week summer placement in their first year and a 12-month industrial placement in their third year, with a guaranteed role in one of Vodafone’s digital teams once they graduate in 2022.

Professor Andy Schofield, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham, said: “We believe that in order to prepare our students for a 21st century workplace, it is essential to build their digital skills and give them the best possible opportunities in which to use them.

The four-year programme we are launching with Vodafone will provide our students with both the digital education and critical hands-on training they will need to succeed in a digital future. As a world leader for research and innovation, we are delighted to be partnering with Vodafone to address the UK’s technology skills gap and educate the digital talent of the future.”

Mentoring digital entrepreneurs: Bright Sparks

To support digital entrepreneurs and foster a culture of innovation, Vodafone is launching Bright Sparks. A mentoring programme for digital start-ups, Bright Sparks was developed in collaboration with Oxford University Innovation, an organisation set up to help University staff and students apply their expertise and research for wider social and economic benefit.

Oxford University Innovation selected 10 digital start-ups[ii] to participate in Bright Sparks based on their areas of expertise, stage of development and enthusiasm for the project. The 10 start-ups will each have a Vodafone mentor who will work with them to support early stage digital innovations, providing specialist skills and commercial guidance.

Brendan Ludden, Head of Licensing and Ventures, Physical Sciences at Oxford University Innovation, said: “Our 10 digital start-ups who are taking part in the Bright Sparks mentorship programme are developing some of the most innovative solutions to societal issues from transport to healthcare.

We chose to partner with Vodafone because of their world-leading position in mobile technology and markets. With Vodafone mentors providing guidance in areas like digital, strategy and marketing, our ten start-ups will have access to vital skills they need to thrive.”

Helping Vodafone frontline employees re-train as coders: Code Ready
Frontline employees in Vodafone retail stores and contact centres who would like to make the transition to a digital career can learn to code with Code Ready, a new digital skills programme. Vodafone is partnering with Makers, London’s leading software development programme, to deliver the programme and help employees reskill.

Code Ready is fully funded, which means Vodafone employees won’t have to pay a penny to retrain for a digital career. They will learn all the skills they need to become a developer and secure a new job with Vodafone at the end of the course.

Code Ready will start with a pilot in September, with a planned intake of 20-30 people in Manchester in 2019.

Spencer Ayres, MD Makers Apprenticeships at Makers, said: “At Makers, we believe that developing tech talent ready for today’s fast moving world of work takes an agile, accelerated and inclusive approach. Vodafone’s Code Ready programme is a great example of an approach that’s truly responsive to a rapidly changing tech industry.

By re-training Vodafone’s retail and contact centre staff interested in becoming developers, we hope to inspire even more people to consider a digital career.”