Features | 10 Feb 2023

Vodafone apprentices: ‘Mistakes are the best teachers’

To mark National Apprenticeship Week 2023, we spoke to three Vodafone apprentices about how they’re learning valuable skills while earning a crust.

Apprentices at Vodafone in the UK say they are not only gaining valuable skills and experience in a real-world business environment, they’re also challenging themselves in ways they hadn’t expected.

As part of National Apprenticeship Week 2023, Vodafone UK News spoke to three apprentices who are currently learning while earning. For Lys Irebe, a Level 4 Software Engineering apprentice, the appeal of apprenticing lies in being able to apply learned knowledge immediately.

“You learn the coding language and then you get to apply that to an application straight away,” said Lys.

For Jordan Jeffery, a Level 6 Network Engineering apprentice in the satellites team, being entrusted with responsibility was both surprising and gratifying.

“The responsibility that is given to us by our colleagues and our line managers – I was definitely not expecting to work on live projects that are actually going to impact our customers,” Jordan told Vodafone UK News.

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For Jordan, this led to the most surprising experience so far in his apprenticeship: “Probably one of the biggest things that surprised me is that it’s okay to fail. I think it’s something that we’re taught against in school. You’re not supposed to ask for help or work in teams with people, as if you were in exam conditions.

“Vodafone is quite the opposite. And the apprenticeship in general is quite the opposite: attempt, fail, learn and progress. You have to take risks and chances. You have to get involved and put yourself out there.

“It’s a very rewarding kind of process and I think helps quite a lot of us in our development.”

Pip Austin, a Level 6 Software Engineering apprentice, relished the opportunity to hone skills other than those on her syllabus and work slate, skills such as time management and informal networking. Jordan agreed, going so far as to say that the chance to further such ‘soft skills’ helps set apprenticeships apart from university degrees.

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Pip also enjoys the feeling of community, from the ‘buddy’ mentoring system for new starters and coding challenges against other programmers, to extracurricular activities and opportunities to meet people from other departments in the company.

Looking ahead, all three were united in their hopes for the future.

“I’d like to extend myself outside my comfort zone, doing the things which I’m less familiar with so I can gain more exposure and become a well-rounded developer,” said Lys.

“Once I’ve finished, I want to still be learning. I don’t want to stop. I want to still be actively pushing myself,” agreed Pip.

Jordan cited the example set by those around him at Vodafone.

“The community side is what makes Vodafone so special. The overall mentality of the company is very inviting and warm to growth and improvement.”

Applications for Vodafone 2023 Apprenticeship programmes are open until 28 February 2023. If you – or anyone you know – are interested in getting a hands-on education and real-world qualifications, all guided by industry experts, please visit the Vodafone careers website.

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