Looking to the future with O2's Early Careers Programme

By Ann Pickering, Chief HR Officer and Chief of Staff 

Today marks A-Level results day in the UK. A nerve wracking time for thousands of young people across the country.

Naturally, it’s also a time for young people to plot their routes from school into the working world. Some will be looking to university degrees or other further education. Others will choose to go straight into full-time work. This decision alone can easily feel overwhelming.

But young people don’t have to choose between getting a job and continuing their education. There are a number of incredible apprenticeships which offer the best of both worlds.

At O2, we run an Early Careers Programme. Through this, we have recruited many talented apprentices fresh off the back of completing their A-Levels. In 2019 alone, we will be taking on 60 young people across our apprenticeship and graduate schemes.

As an O2 apprentice, we pay you to learn. Why? Because we recognise what you have to offer.  We offer some great opportunities – including gaining a BSc (Hons) degree in IT, and professional accountancy qualifications – for those that don’t want the traditional university experience or want to learn and earn.  As the first generation to have grown up with the internet, today’s A-Level students have natural digital skills that are of enormous value to today’s workplace.

Apprentice in action: Ashleigh James

Ashleigh is a 20 year old apprentice in O2’s Commercial Finance Team. She applied for the O2 Apprentice Scheme back in 2017, after deciding that university wasn’t the right choice for her.

Since starting at O2 in September 2017, Ashleigh has gained a wealth of experience, from financial forecasting and analysis to presenting results. These opportunities have allowed her to grow in confidence and develop full financial knowledge of O2.

Ashleigh is finishing her time as a Finance Apprentice at O2, about to become a Finance Graduate. She has already achieved a lot, but we are now incredibly excited and proud to support her in her journey to becoming a fully qualified accountant.

Ashleigh is proof that a university degree isn’t essential to building a successful career and that you don’t have to choose between a job and an education.


As Ashleigh’s experience as an O2 apprentice shows, we don’t expect ready made experts from day one. We look for young people with raw talent, ambition and enthusiasm to work in an exciting digital environment.

In return, we nurture and develop their skills. We provide the opportunity to work with, and learn from, industry leading experts. And we give young people the chance to gain unique, hands-on experience in a fast-paced industry.

Young people are the future of our business. And we can’t wait to welcome the next cohort in September.