Virtual PA Company Apprentice speaks at House of Lords Digital launch

Everybody’s doing it, Social Media, the new black. Now there’s even an apprenticeship for it and local company the Virtual PA Company is one of the first to champion the cause and recruit a Digital Apprentice from the very first intake at Peterborough Regional College and in association with the Digital Youth Academy founded by Penny Power.

Ashleigh Marais was the lucky candidate awarded the post and whose Virtual PA role will also include special responsibilities for the firm’s own Social Media implementation as well as that of the company’s clients. At a prestigious House of Lords event this month she spoke at the Digital Youth Academy launch of the Digital Apprenticeship. “I’ve been using social media since I was 13 years old, now I can bring my modern skills to a more traditional work place. I was worried before that my lack of experience would mean I couldn’t get a job but the Digital Apprenticeship means skills I didn’t realise were valuable are needed by companies.”

Virtual PA Co, who ‘share secretaries with busy people and businesses’ look after clients across the UK by allocating them a small team of dedicated Personal Assistants to handle their calls and daily tasks including diary management, report preparation and credit control. Now they want to add the burgeoning requirement to set up and administer Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest accounts to their portfolio of services. Gail Thomas, who founded the business eleven years ago, says, “In a traditional apprentice relationship, the employer teaches the apprentice, but it is clear from the comprehensive curriculum that Ashleigh will follow, that this is very definitely a two way street. It’s unique and attractive to employers like us.”

Sarah Cooke, Marketing Manager at Peterborough Regional College said “We are delighted to be one of the first three colleges to align with the Digital Youth Academy to offer the Social Digital Media Apprenticeship. The interest from employers has been huge and therefore massively encouraging. It’s an impressive course where students learn how to plan and execute digital communications whilst gaining knowledge on how to use social media in a growing area of need within local businesses.”

Penny Power whose brainchild is fast becoming a global interest, truly believes that children these days are ‘born digital’ and grow with a connection and friendship based mindset. She says, “An O2 report concluded that Young People’s digital skills are valued at £6.7billion by UK businesses. Our dream at the Digital Youth Academy is to change the lives of thousands of born digital young people AND improve the performance of UK plc”.



About Virtual PA Co

Founded as a direct result of personal need when Gail Thomas decided to share a secretary with some associates, the Virtual PA Company has helped thousands of businesses with handling calls and administration duties. Designed to aid businesses large and small across the nation, the business operates a Pay As You Go service for business owners, managers and executives to share a team of named Personal Assistants based in the firm’s Fengate office. Each team comprises three PAs in order to provide a highly personalised service.

Typical tasks include dealing with enquiries (telephone and email based), taking orders and payments, raising and chasing invoices, producing paperwork and presentations and of course social media strategy, source and implementation.

For enquiries and further information contact 01733 865438 or 

About Peterborough Regional College

Peterborough Regional College is one of the largest providers for further education and Apprenticeships within Cambridgeshire. Specialising in vocational study in a wide range of subjects, the College also provides bespoke training for businesses and work with employers to manage and deliver over 20 different types of Apprenticeship programmes. The College, located on Park Crescent in Peterborough works with students of all ages across its full, part-time and evening courses as well as the partnership with University Centre Peterborough to deliver higher education locally.

For further information and enquiries contact the Information Centre on 0845 872 8722 or log onto

About The Digital Youth Academy:

The Digital Youth Academy, founded in 2011, offers an innovative Social Digital Apprenticeship designed to help the ‘Born Digital’ generation find sustainable employment.
Since 1990, young people born in the UK have been ‘Born Digital’. They have natural expertise in social digital media which many businesses want, but need the business training and recognised qualifications to secure long-term job prospects.

The DYA’s Social Digital Apprenticeship will help students meet the growing need for businesses to expand their social digital profile, by teaching them business acumen and providing them with experience and a recognised qualification. At the same time the DYA will help businesses across the UK by providing them with a workforce capable of satisfying their social media needs.

The DYA, which is currently working in partnership with Middlesbrough and Peterborough Regional Colleges, was founded by Janette Faherty OBE, founder of Avanta; Penny Power, founder of business network Ecademy and Helen Richardson founder of Workpays.

For further information contact

Written by Gail

Gail, our founder, set up Virtual PA Co in 2001. These days she spends time helping some of our customers with more complex and often financial issues on an advisory basis.
November 14, 2012
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