Openreach recruits 3,000 apprentice engineers for fibre build

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Openreach, the access network division of BT Group, is to recruit 3,000 new trainees – of which around 1,600 are newly created roles - over the next 12 months in order to support its ‘full fibre’ broadband build plans.

The news was announced as the company opened its new training school in Peterborough, one of 12 new regional fibre training centres built to support the rollout. The opening was attended by Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd MP. New roles will be located throughout the UK, with trainees joining Openreach’s team, working to expand, upgrade, maintain and install services over its national broadband network.

Around half of the engineers will be helping to deliver the company’s Fibre First programme, which is designed to bring Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technology to millions of front doors. Alongside the latest recruitment drive, Openreach also revealed 11 new locations where FTTP network building will take place during 2019, including Bury, Barking & Dagenham, Bexley, Croydon, Greater Glasgow region, Harrow, Merton, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Sutton Coldfield, and Salford. This brings the total number of towns, cities and boroughs up to 25.

Speaking at the training school opening, Rudd said: ‘This is a huge expansion in high skilled, well paying, jobs across the UK and yet another demonstration of the jobs success we have seen since 2010. It is also good news that these are some new training roles, developing the skills of our workforce.’

Openreach additionally plans to publish information on its website detailing build plans for the next 12 months, including the total number of exchange areas to be reached in each location. It will also publish details of the specific exchanges where FTTP is currently being built, has already been built, or it intends to start building within the next three months. The company plans to update this information every three months as part of its commitment to supporting the Government’s FTTP ambitions and strategy, as set out in the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review.

Minister for Digital Margot James said: ‘Openreach's publication of clear plans for where, when and how they will be investing in new fibre networks is an important step. Long term commitments from the industry like this are very important for local communities who need this kind of guarantee on when they will be able to take advantage of the benefits that fibre can bring.

Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach said: ‘We’re making great progress towards reaching our target of upgrading three million homes and businesses to full fibre by the end of 2020 – reaching another 13k premises per week – and these new recruits will play a crucial role in that programme.’

Added HR director, Kevin Brady: ‘We want to get on with the job of delivering full fibre broadband to the UK, and that’s why we need to continue growing our team of highly skilled engineers ready to connect homes and businesses across the nation. Our training schools will help us to meet our new training demands and, in March this year, we’ll have almost doubled the learning days we deliver annually to more than 160,000 – the highest in the history of our business.’  

Phil Sorsky, VP international sales at CommScope has issued a response, saying: ‘This news will be most welcome to those living and working in premises that are still without access to speedy and reliable broadband connectivity. The government aims to connect 15m premises to the new fibre network by 2025, and meeting this timescale will be critical to support economic growth in such uncertain market conditions. With the advent of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, the significance of superfast broadband to UK businesses will only continue to grow in the coming years. The UK must be ready.’

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