Vodafone UK chief executive Guy Laurence has announced the mobile phone giant plans to hire 400 graduates over the next five years

Vodafone hailed for pledge to recruit 400 graduates

The Business Secretary has hailed Vodafone’s plans to hire 400 graduates over five years as a blueprint for British businesses.

Cable was at the company's Newbury headquarters to unveil plans by Vodafone UK to boost its graduate intake in response to soaring demand, with the mobile phone giant to take on about 80 graduates a year, up from its normal annual intake of 50 graduates, offering them extended two-year roles.

The new recruits, who start at Vodafone in August, will tackle roles in technology, retail, finance, brand, customer services, legal, communications, human resources and enterprise and will be based in Newbury.

Cable said: "Graduate schemes like Vodafone's help young people get started in their careers. They show the value of investing in young people who want to train and gain experience in a successful British business."

The Government has called on businesses to create more apprenticeships and graduate roles to tackle stubbornly high youth unemployment, amid fears of a "lost generation".

Figures released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics showed about 1.1 million people aged 16 to 24 were not in education, employment or training during January to March – a rate of more than 15 per cent.

Vodafone said it has been inundated with applications for its graduate schemes in recent years and it pointed out that 88 per cent of its graduates stay on with the company once their training has finished.

Vodafone UK chief executive Guy Laurence said: "Our graduates bring fresh thinking and energy into our business. I always spend time with them as their ideas are interesting and we can learn as much from them as they do from us."

Graduates' training has been extended from one year to two. The first year consists of two months in a Vodafone high street store, followed by a couple of five-month spells in any part of the business, and ending with a year-long placement.

The telecoms group this week reported its first drop in annual revenues for seven years thanks in part to Europe's economic woes.

Sales of £44.4bn for the year to March 31 were 4.2 per cent lower than a year ago, despite benefiting from stronger trading in emerging markets and increased smartphone use.

Vodafone's service revenues in southern Europe slumped 11.6 per cent in the year, driven by economic weakness and competition in Spain and Italy, while the figure in the UK was 4 per cent lower.

Group operating profits were 3.7 per cent higher at just under £12bn, but when including a £7.7bn charge on the shrinking value of its assets in Spain and Italy the company's pre-tax profits fell 66 per cent to £3.2bn.

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