How to become a telecoms apprentice

Joe Kimber, Membership & Events Executive (Former Executive Support Apprentice) at the ITP, talks through what it takes to become a telecoms apprentice. 

Jobs in IT and telecoms are set to grow considerably over the next 10 years, as more and more new technology becomes mainstream and more skilled professionals are needed. We are already seeing lots of change within the telecoms sector due to the Internet of Things and 5G. It’s a fantastic and exciting industry to be a part of, and apprenticeships are a great way to get into the sector and discover which areas you’re interested in.

What roles are available for apprentices?
There are so many varied roles available with both large employers like BT and Virgin Media and smaller, independent companies. Roles include:

  • Technicians and Engineers – for installing & configuring computer and telecoms hardware, software, systems & networks.
  • Network planners – assisting in the design of civil and fibre-optic infrastructure
  • Telecoms Sales – liaising with potential customers and generating new business.
  • Customer service managers– helping clients with issues and account management.

What are the development opportunities?
Apprenticeships are divided into different levels:

  • Intermediate: level 2 (equivalent educational level of 5 passes at GSCE grades A – C).
  • Advanced: level 3 (equivalent to 2 A Level passes)
  • Higher: Level 4,5,6 and 7 (foundation degree and above)

The apprentices who train through the ITP’s scheme have the chance to qualify for letters after their name through professional registration and for engineers, there’s the opportunity to gain chartered status.

How long do apprenticeship roles last and what can you expect at the end?
It varies from company to company, but most are for around 12- 18 months. Most apprentices that we work with have stayed on in permanent jobs with their apprentice employer after the scheme has ended. However, if you don’t want to stay on with the company- (depending on any agreement made with your employer) an apprenticeship will give you the experience, confidence and skills to gain other roles.

Where do you find the roles?
Many roles are advertised on job sites such as Indeed or Monster, but you can also check on the National Apprenticeship Service site. We advertise across these and on our own website, so if there is a specific company you’re interested in working for, it’s worth checking directly on their website for vacancies too.

What is the interview process like?
The apprentices who come through the ITP scheme take part in a telephone interview and then usually attend an assessment day. These are normally held at the employer’s premises so it’s a great opportunity to look at where you will be working if you are offered the job! There are usually some assessments, and often in IT and telecoms this would be a maths test, plus some fun group exercises and sometimes a presentation.

What are the benefits of telecoms apprenticeships?
For most of the apprentices we work with they say it’s that no two days are the same, and being able to learn on the job whilst being paid.  Many good schemes give you access to mentors, which means you’re getting coached from the very start from people who really know their stuff. I can’t think of a better way to kick-start your career, plus you’re earning whilst learning. For me, working in telecoms has opened up lots of opportunities for my future as I’m gaining experience in a fast-growing industry where jobs are secure and increasing.

Joe started off his career in telecoms as an apprentice at the ITP and is now employed full-time. Find out more about the ITP apprenticeship scheme at  www.itpapprenticeships.org

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