BT’s Openreach will expand its network of 22,200 field engineers, with the hiring 3,500 trainee engineers to support the UK’s ‘full-fibre’ proposals.
The proposal is aimed at connecting three million premises to full-fibre broadband services by 2020, through development of its national infrastructure. It will see the company spend £66bn in a bid to maintain and upgrade the nation’s broadband services.
Demonstrating further commitment by Openreach, the plans will allow trainees to access the first national fibre engineering school, with 12 schools eventually being opened. The news was welcomed by Chancellor Philip Hammond, who noted that the scheme will boost the UK’s workforce in addition to providing highly skilled jobs.
Offering an alternative to university, the programme presents those with an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects an attractive option to enjoy a rich and rewarding career in engineering. Trainees would be able to work as an active member of a busy workforce, and through tailored training programmes, further their education to gain industry recognised qualifications whilst earning a competitive salary.
With the UK facing a shortage of engineers, this could provide a great pathway for young people and swignificant economic benefits for the nation, as outlined by Clive Selley, Openreach’s Chief Executive, who remarked that the company’s investment in people and broadband infrastructure would support the UK in achieving better economic benefits, making the country more attractive to investors.
Additionally, he noted that the plans would benefit society through the offering of employment and education opportunities, upskilling the nation’s Openreach workforce.
The infrastructure will accelerate the firm’s original proposals by 50% and will connect both households and businesses when completed, boosting the current 3% of the UK who can access full-fibre services.
However, the proposals come at a cost, which BT plans to recover from its service providers, who will see a £7 per month increase in line rental charges. Furthermore, BT Openreach is also asking service providers to encourage all customers to move across to the fibre network, suggesting that current services could be downgraded or discontinued.
Such price increases will undoubtedly be passed onto consumers, who may benefit from faster, more reliable services, but only at a price.
Openreach sees the investment as a double success, with benefits for both people and infrastructure. In the last year, it has already hired an additional 1,800 engineers, showing that it means business when it comes to providing the UK with faster, more reliable and better broadband services.
Investing in trainees will allow Openreach to not only expand its workforce but develop skills that are matched to the company’s current and future needs, providing skilled and diverse workers for the future. It goes without saying that a company who is willing to invest in its current and future workforce demonstrates commitment and positivity, which can only be good for its workforce and its ability to attract and retain customers.
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