Openreach is set to hit the ground running just weeks after being given the green light to legally separate from BT, with the broadband provider planning a major expansion of its workforce.
Openreach has announced that its ambitious plans will run over the next eight months, with the company looking to recruit 1,500 trainees as part of a major expansion of its engineering workforce.
Not only is the company looking at an aggressive expansion plan, it is also looking to innovate in the recruiting space. Potential candidates in the recruitment drive will be able to discover exactly what life as a field engineer involves, with the help of virtual reality (VR). The company is trialling a VR experience which enables interested applicants to don a headset and experience climbing a telephone pole or exploring the local exchange building in immersive 3D, from the perspective of a real engineer.
Driving the recruitment is the company’s aim to improve customer service, with Openreach chief executive Clive Selley, saying: “Improving customer service is our number one priority so we’re investing in our people to make sure we deliver.
“Our customers need us to install new lines and repair our network faster than ever, and by increasing the number of people working on proactive network maintenance, we can fix more issues before people even notice them.
“We are also continuing to roll out superfast broadband services at scale and making big investments in our network to make ultrafast broadband available to up to 12 million homes by the end of 2020. We want to recruit the very best people to help us on that journey and our new trainee engineering roles will offer people the hands on experience they need to succeed.”
Openreach is expecting an initial intake of 119 recruits to join this coming April, followed by around 60 new recruits joining each week through to mid-October. New trainees will embark on a tailored 12 month accredited learning programme – including on-the-job experience and culminating with the attainment of an externally recognised qualification for IT, Software and Telecoms professionals.
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley said: “The Government’s £1.7 bn rollout programme has helped take superfast broadband to more than nine out of ten homes and businesses in the UK and we are reaching thousands more every week.
“Openreach engineers have played a pivotal role in helping deliver this, and these 1,500 new recruits will be a fantastic addition to our thriving digital economy.”
The news follows the separation of Openreach from BT, a split which was years in the making. The final agreement will see 32,000 employees transferred to Openreach, once pension arrangements have been carried out.
Gavin Patterson, BT Chief Executive, commenting on the split, said: “I believe this agreement will serve the long-term interests of millions of UK households, businesses and service providers that rely on our infrastructure. It will also end a period of uncertainty for our people and support further investment in the UK’s digital infrastructure.”
“This has been a long and challenging review where we have been balancing a number of competing interests. We have listened to criticism of our business and as a result are willing to make fundamental changes to the way Openreach will work in the future.”