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Vodafone’s new subsea apprentices surf to a new career next week

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The first four apprentices enrolled in Vodafone’s new submarine network engineering course will start work next week.

The course is Vodafone’s move to address an emerging shortage of young people coming into the industry, whose age profile is heavily skewed to men approaching retirement.

Only one of the four is a woman, confirmed Elaine Reed, senior manager for submarine engineering at the company.

Vodafone told Capacity: “They will be based initially at the cable station in Bude but will have the opportunity to experience all aspects of the industry, both engineering and commercial.”

They will be based at the cable landing station at Bude, on the coast of Cornwall in the south-west of the UK. The beaches at Bude (pictured, from Visit Cornwall) are also famous for surfing.

More importantly for Vodafone and its new apprentices, it has been the landing point of a number of cables for more than 20 years, and it will see more.

One of the oldest is a Global Crossing cable to Belport, New York, which went into service in 2000. It is now owned by Lumen.

Apollo was built by Alcatel Submarine Networks in 2003 for Cable & Wireless, acquired by Vodafone a decade ago. It connects New Jersey in the US with Bude in the UK and Lannion in France.

But new cables also land there, or are due to do so shortly, including Grace Hopper, 2Africa and Amitie.

Vodafone said its new apprentices will take a five-year course leading to a degree in electromechanical engineering with Blackpool & Flyde College, part of the University of Lancaster. As the college is 350km away, remote learning will be an essential component.

The company has not yet decided whether it will recruit more submarine network engineering apprentices in 2023. One of the challenges in the shortage of space at the Bude cable landing station, Capacity was told by Vodafone executives.

 


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