Parents should receive more information about apprenticeships and other alternatives to university, according to Michelle Adams, O2’s head of leadership, talent and resourcing.
“We need to bring awareness of alternate routes into employment to parents, so that they can add value to the conversation when discussing options with their children,” she told HR magazine.
“Obviously the graduate route is the most popular and common, but with the amount of debt that you can now accrue it isn’t possible for everyone. There is a concern that parents could have an outdated view of what an apprenticeship means, so we need to get the message out there.”
Adams explained that O2 offers apprenticeships in many areas people might not expect, including social media, data analytics, sales, finance and HR. “There is a belief that apprenticeships are all about trades, but that’s not always the case,” she said. “We have 190 young people currently in our talent programme, in 37 different roles across the business.”
To encourage parents to take an interest in alternative education routes Adams suggested drawing attention to the skills gap in the technical job market. “I was surprised by the number of parents who did not know what a career in the digital sector actually means,” she said. “Businesses should be considering reaching out to parents through schools, at events such as parents’ evenings, to bring them into the conversation.”
She also stressed that apprenticeships and internships should be available to students from different social and academic backgrounds. “At O2 we don’t have grade requirements on any of our talent programmes,” she said. “It is more important that someone is passionate, willing to learn, and confident. We have a saying; we hire for will then train for skill."
“Many young people will have picked up great GCSE results this week, but some may not have got the grades they wanted,” she added. “But they are far more than their grades. Young people today are digital natives, and businesses know they can bring those skills to their company.”