Vodafone and PDS’s apprenticeship programme wins award

Vodafone and national apprenticeship consultancy Partnership Development Solutions (PDS) have scooped the Partnership and Collaboration award at the South East’s annual National Training Awards (NTA).

The award was given in recognition of Vodafone and PDS’s partnership in developing Vodafone’s Higher Apprenticeship in Technology programme, which has significantly reduced costs and improved efficiency for the company since its launch.

The NTAs are organised by UK Skills, on behalf of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), to honour the achievement of outstanding business and personal success through investment in training. The award was presented by Meridian Tonight TV’s Fred Dinenage at a ceremony at the Copthorne Hotel at Effingham Park on 7 October 2009.

The Higher Apprenticeship in Technology programme has also won Vodafone’s own ‘Best New Innovative Idea’ competition for 2007.

PDS developed the programme in close partnership with Vodafone who initiated it as a direct response to the company’s goal of reducing its reliance on outside contractors in its Device Testing Team, which tests devices including mobile phones before they go on the market.

“Because the project was so important and time-critical, we needed a partner that was familiar with all aspects of people development,” said Ed Cowmeadow, Head of Devices at Vodafone. “PDS had been recommended to us as a company that moves quickly and provides high quality, appropriate solutions.”

In 2006, before the programme was established, Vodafone used up to 15 contractors to carry out its testing work. The team is now solely staffed by the five-strong team of apprentices. After less than six months Vodafone was able to reduce its product validation and testing budget by a staggering 80 per cent.

PDS director Jenny Harman said: “It’s a great honour to win this award. We are particularly pleased that it has recognised our company ethos of working in partnership with our customers. This initiative has proved that a properly planned Higher Apprenticeship programme can be a real alternative to graduate recruitment, provide substantial savings and robust organisational change and, most importantly, deliver highly motivated employees.”

PDS worked with Vodafone to develop a business case and linked-up with Thames Valley University (TVU), which created a brand new Foundation Degree Programme for the apprentices. PDS managed the attraction, recruitment and selection process of the apprentices and delivered the NVQ and Key Skills assessment.

The apprentices have now completed their NVQ and Key Skills qualifications and are now all on course to receive their degrees in January. “This is my first real job,” says Phillip Moffatt, one of Vodafone’s apprentices, “and I am achieving an NVQ in the process.”

Skills Minister Kevin Brennan commented: ““It is more important than ever that we continue to support and invest in the training of our workforce, helping individuals develop their skills as well helping businesses stay competitive and prepare for the upturn and the opportunities the future will present.”

PDS’s apprenticeship programmes are approved by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) which will enable Vodafone apprentices to gain professional recognition, at the new ICTTech standard, on completion of their apprenticeship.