What parents need to know

At Virgin Media we recognise that making the switch from education to employment is a big deal for youngsters and parents. As parents, you’ll naturally want what’s best for your son or daughter – and they’ll need your help in making decisions that could shape their lives.

Being straight up with you, that can feel like a lot of pressure and can be a super-stressful time for you as a parent.

Did you know that according to a survey by the National Apprenticeship Service, 87% of parents give career advice to their children – but up to 90% don’t feel well informed enough to offer it in the first place. So, if you were feeling a little lost up till this point fear not you are not alone!

That’s why we’ve created an overview of what parents need to know about our award-winning Apprenticeship Schemes, sharing our knowledge to help you understand what apprenticeships involve and why our schemes are so great!

So grab a cuppa, put your feet up and take a moment to yourself to read through this useful information page.

Let’s start at the beginning, what is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is an opportunity for your child to combine employment and education by gaining practical experience in a real job while studying for a recognised qualification and earning a fantastic competitive salary.

In the past apprenticeships were once associated with manual trades, but they’ve evolved over the years into hundreds of different roles across multiple industries.

At Virgin Media, we have apprenticeships covering a wide-range of skillsets and career aspirations – out in the field as a Fibre Engineer or Field Technician across the country, in our offices working as a Project Manager or Business Administrator or some of our more technical office roles as Provisioning Engineers, Data Analysts or Delivery and Operations Project Managers.  If your child isn’t sure what apprenticeship they might suit they can always try our new Match Me quiz to explore.

Who are apprenticeships designed for?

You must be over 16 years old to undertake an apprenticeship, but other than that the only general pre-requisite we look for in an apprenticeship is a genuine interest in continuing your studies whilst working. We celebrate diversity at Virgin Media and none more so than through our Apprenticeship Schemes. We welcome diverse and unique individuals, with varied backgrounds, experiences, races, gender identities, ages, religions and abilities.

Your child matters to us, and that’s why have gone the extra mile to produce apprenticeship schemes where they will feel they belong from day one!

What’s the process for applying to an apprenticeship?

We know that the mere mention of ‘Interviews’, ‘Assessment Centres’ and ‘a Recruitment Process’ can all sound a little daunting, but fear not we offer a number of touch points to ensure that your child feels supported throughout the process, and can really showcase themselves in the best light.

Right from the start everyone has their own account area on our online applicant system which gives them a contactable email address and telephone number, so if they ever have any queries they can be reassured that there will be a friendly advisor on hand to help guide them through the next steps.

From time to time we also run a number of organised web chats which your child can register for in advance and join.  Alongside other candidates they can ask questions about our schemes, the application process or learning opportunities and benefits.

For many people, an apprenticeship assessment centre (or ‘discovery centre’ as we call them here at Virgin Media!) is likely to be their first. So, to level the playing field, everyone is given a coaching call ahead of the day, where we share some hints and tips for performing well, as well as letting them know what to expect on the day.

We try to make our discovery centres as accessible as possible for all candidates, whether they require reasonable adjustments or simply need assistance with setting up their technology – we strive to ensure that we are as accommodating as possible. As our discovery centres are currently all being run virtually we hold live, optional, pre-discovery centre sessions so that individuals can practice joining an online meeting as well as getting feedback on the quality of their video and audio, to minimise the chances of distracting technical difficulties on the day.

All our candidates are offered feedback at every stage of the application process so that they can identify areas that they bossed, as well as areas to focus on developing in the future.

Will my child really be learning ‘new skills’ with an Apprenticeship?

Firstly, we recognise that a child’s first step into a new job straight after school or college can be a bit daunting, but don’t worry we’ve got their backs with lots of extra support to ensure they are truly in a position to learn new skills on their Apprenticeship. There are lots of key support touchpoints including;

  • daily or weekly calls with their learning managers and mentors, giving an opportunity to get to know their team and understand their work requirements for the day
  • our future careers committee, run by our apprentices, interns and graduates – they’ll be part of a 400+ community where they’ll be joining virtual socials, event, and development opportunities
  • our Future Careers team who provide a framework of support and events
  • and, the scheme training provider directly, offering a dedicated coach so apprentices can utilise their expertise for any questions they might have

Each of our schemes has been uniquely designed, offering a structured programme that ensures our apprentices develop specialised and transferrable skills under the guidance of caring mentors who are there to support and offer regular feedback reviews. We will support your child’s personal and professional development throughout the scheme and set them up for future success.

At least 20% of an apprenticeship scheme will be spent studying towards a nationally recognised qualification. This time can be carried out weekly or in large blocks depending on the scheme’s structure. Your child will need to complete records of evidence of their learning to achieve a chosen qualification or award. The 20% allowance is taken within the working day, removing the extra stress of late-night revision and supporting your child’s wellbeing, pretty cool right?

Apprentices will all gain so much varied experience, not only in their work role, but also in life skills, behaviours and confidence. We offer lots of opportunities for them to become ambassadors and get involved in careers fairs and events where they can talk to others about their own experience. This is very popular and gives variety and also the chance to meet other apprentices from different organisations and schemes.

And it doesn’t stop there, we don’t believe that learning should stop once your child’s apprenticeship ends – which is why we have an extensive range of additional learning options, including further university studies and management courses.

And what happens when an apprenticeship ends?

At Virgin Media we offer Apprenticeship Schemes on permanent contracts across all levels; ranging from Intermediate to Higher and Degree apprenticeships The length of our schemes depends on the role (the majority are one to two years). So no panic over interviews or job security when the apprenticeship ends, your child will continue in their role.

There are many varied options for progression depending on how an apprentice wants to progress. Many will stay in that role for a while to gain more competency but we have lots of apprentices that have moved into different areas of the business later on. Here a few of our apprentices give just such examples of how they’ve progressed since completing their apprenticeship.

Will an apprenticeship affect my child’s earning potential?

Definitely not! Depending on what level they enter, your child could be earning a starting salary of anything between £19,000 and £30,000 a year (with clear salary progression opportunities) along with some pretty amazing benefits. And, completing a higher apprenticeship could see your child’s earnings increase by around £150,000 over their lifetime!

And in even better news, all of our schemes are funded by us – so there’s no tuition fees, no student loans and no debt – Phew!

But, perhaps the main draw of apprenticeships is that they offer your child a proverbial ‘foot in the door’ in our business, and most of our successful applicants go on to have rewarding careers with us.

We hope we’ve managed to give you a good overview of apprenticeships as a parent, and if you or your child are ready to explore more here are a few things that might help…

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