BT Group and Firebrand in virtual apprenticeship push


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BT Group has revealed how it managed to continue its 4,500-strong apprenticeship scheme at full tilt during lockdown, with 64 achieving certification in digital skills.

Since the apprenticeship levy was introduced in 2017 BT Group says it has welcomed over 9,000 learners into the company, making it among the largest apprenticeship suppliers in the UK’s private sector. All learners are guaranteed a job once they complete their training, and 80% of apprentices that started at BT five years ago have remained in the business.

BT apprentices spend 80% of their time doing on-the-job training while 20% is off-site through a choice of residential learning, virtual and face-to-face training, some of which is co-ordinated and managed by Firebrand Training.

When lockdown measures in the UK were enforced in late March, BT asked its training providers whether they could move to an entirely virtual environment. Firebrand Training, which had previously focused solely on in-person learning, was able to do this within a few weeks.

Rob Chapman, co-founder and CEO of Firebrand Training said: “During this uncertain time, it’s important to put health and wellbeing training as a priority so learners feel supported as much as possible and are able to access any resources they may need to continue their education.

“We are proud that we were able to move our courses online at such a rapid pace, and make the shift in the learning process seamless for BT Group’s apprentices.”

Ann Potterton, head of apprenticeships, BT said: “We wanted to adapt to the lockdown restrictions as best we could to support the current learners through virtual training, and ensure they still receive the important face-time with coaches while retaining their sense of community with colleagues.”

Firebrand Training has trained learners in IT technical sales L3, digital support technician L3, network engineer L4, software developer L4 and unified communications technician L3, enabling learners to get certified through accelerated, residential training and providing a taster of “going to college” alongside their fellow apprentices.

An apprentice at BT Group, Lewis Caborn, said: “Before Covid-19 I was based in Nottingham and Birmingham working in data centres and mobile centres where I’m involved in implementing full fibre broadband. Alongside this, I have been undertaking training with Firebrand in cloud computing, Microsoft Fundamentals and networking.”

As the measures begin to ease, Firebrand said it would be offering a hybrid remote and in-person offering to organisations like BT.

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