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Openreach embraces virtual reality to hire 1,500 trainee engineers

Press Release   •  Mar 20, 2017 09:29 GMT

Openreach apprentice Sam Last with a Virtual Reality headset
  • Candidates to experience 360 degree simulation of life as an engineer – including climbing telephone poles and inspecting underground chambers
  • New recruits will work to extend the fibre broadband network, improve customer service and keep Britain connected

Openreach today announced a major expansion of its engineering workforce with plans to recruit 1,500 trainees as part of its drive to improve customer service and invest in the operation of its network.

Over the next eight months, the business will be seeking recruits from across the country to fill the new, full-time and permanent roles which are focussed on extending its fibre broadband network, improving customer service and keeping Britain connected.

In a ground-breaking approach to recruitment, potential candidates 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.

It is expected that an initial intake of 119 recruits will join the company in 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."

Openreach chief executive Clive Selley said: “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.”

Kevin Brady, HR director for Openreach, explained: “Everyone wonders what it might be like to work for a company when they apply for a job, but we’re giving people the ability to physically see it and experience it for themselves.

“We get people from all walks of life applying for roles at Openreach and an increasing number of women wanting to be engineers, which is fantastic. Becoming an engineer can be a very rewarding career choice, and of course some aspects of the job are both mentally and physically challenging. We know for example that climbing a pole for the first time can be daunting for new recruits, and that’s why we wanted to give people a real insight into what’s involved. Hopefully it will help them to make a more informed decision when they come to apply.”

The 360 degree videos are available to watch on our YouTube channel and can be viewed on any PC, tablet or VR headset. Videos include an engineer’s eye view from the top of a telephone pole, a virtual tour of a telephone exchange and a look inside a green roadside cabinet.

The business also intends to trial them in-person with potential applicants at recruitment roadshows and events throughout the year.

The business remains keen to further increase diversity in the workforce, including the recruitment of more female engineers. It recently joined forces with other technology firms to create a new mentoring scheme – Step into STEM – which encourages schoolgirls to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics careers.

Openreach has hired 5,000 engineers and more than 900 apprentices and graduates over the last four years.

Find out more about our Trainee Engineer Scheme.

Ends

For further information: Catherine Colloms, Director Corporate Affairs Openreach | catherine.colloms@openreach.co.uk or Richard Knowles, Head of Media & PR Openreach | richard.knowles@openreach.co.uk

About Openreach

Openreach is the UK’s leading digital infrastructure provider.

Its 32,000 employees are responsible for building and maintaining millions of miles of fibre and copper cables that connect every home and business in the UK to local telephone exchanges. Openreach operates and maintains this network to deliver a range of wholesale services for more than 560 retail providers, who in-turn provide telephony, broadband, TV and data services to more than 30 million consumer and business customers throughout the country.

Openreach is a highly regulated business, with more than 90 per cent of its revenues generated from services that are regulated by Ofcom. Any company can access its products under exactly the same prices, terms and conditions.

Over the last decade, Openreach has invested more than £10bn into its network and is currently building the UK’s largest fibre broadband footprint. This technology is available to more than 26 million homes and businesses, with tens of thousands more gaining access each week.

Openreach is a wholly owned and independently governed division of the BT Group. For the year ended 31 March 2016, it reported revenues of £5.1bn.

For more information, visitopenreach.co.uk