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Openreach builds back better and greener with more than 5,000 new jobs and an all-Electric Vehicle fleet to upgrade the nation’s broadband

Openreach

9 min read Partner content
  • 2,500 new roles at Openreach and an estimated 2,800 with partners, supporting £12bn broadband project.
  • Commitment to upgrade the UK’s second largest commercial fleet to electric vehicles by 2030
  • Record Full Fibre network build rate - reaching 40,000 homes per week

Openreach today bucked the prevailing economic trend by creating 5,300 new UK-based engineering jobs, to be filled during 2021.

The new roles, located in communities throughout the country, will enable the company to continue improving service levels across its existing networks, whilst building and connecting customers to its new, ultrafast, ultra-reliable ‘Full Fibre’ broadband network at a record pace.

The expansion includes more than 2,500 full-time jobs in its service and network build divisions, as well as an estimated 2,800 positions in its UK supply chain, through partners such as Instalcom, John Henry Group, Kelly Group, Kier, KN, MJ Quinn, Morrison Telecom Services, NMCN and Telent.

The UK’s largest digital infrastructure firm has separately made a commitment to upgrade all 27,000 Openreach vehicles[2] - the second largest commercial fleet in the UK - to electric by 2030.

The announcement comes as the firm hit a record build rate for its Full Fibre broadband programme – which aims to reach 20 million homes and businesses by the mid-to-late 2020s - on the assumption we obtain the required critical enablers. Openreach engineers are now delivering faster, more reliable connectivity to another 40,000 homes and businesses every week, or the equivalent of a home every 15 seconds.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) have found that a nationwide Full Fibre broadband network would boost UK productivity by £59 billion by 2025 – and updated modelling suggests it could enable nearly one million more people to access employment including more than 300,000 carers, nearly 250,000 older workers and 400,000 parents.

The pandemic has accelerated changes in working patterns and, with Full Fibre, nearly two million more people than previously estimated could also choose to work from home in the long term, reducing transport and housing pressures in big cities and boosting local and rural economies across the country.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "Throughout this crisis I've been clear that our number one economic priority is to protect jobs so I'm delighted to welcome this announcement of 5,000 new skilled roles. 

"We're investing billions of pounds across the UK as part of our Plan for Jobs to ensure nobody is left without hope or opportunity." 

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "I welcome this tremendous investment by Openreach. It will help us build back better from the pandemic and create thousands of new, high skilled jobs delivering faster broadband to people across the UK."The plans are a huge step forward in our national mission to level up Britain's digital infrastructure and, alongside the government's £5 billion investment, will make sure even the hardest-to-reach areas get a lightning fast gigabit broadband connection."

Openreach CEO, Clive Selley, said: “As a major employer and infrastructure builder, we believe Openreach can play a leading role in helping the UK to build back better and greener. Our Full Fibre network build is going faster than ever and we’re now looking for thousands more people to build a career with Openreach and help us upgrade broadband connections and continue improving service levels. We’re also investing in our supply chain, which will support the creation of thousands of jobs based all over the UK.

“We know the network we’re building can deliver a host of green benefits – from consuming less power to enabling more home working and fewer commuting trips - and we’re going to take that a step further, by committing to build and maintain that network using state of the art electric vehicles across our 27,000-strong fleet. We’ll have completely transitioned to EVs by 2030.”

Vince Bowler, Managing Director at Instalcom Ltd said: “Instalcom are thrilled to be supporting Openreach in the continued and future development of the UK Full Fibre Network Build. As a strategic supply chain partner this level of planned investment affords our business the optimum platform to develop our people and actively support the creation of the UK’s next generation of engineers aligning with Openreach in challenging the current status of gender disparity.”

Jonny Wilson, Programme Director at John Henry Group said: “Here at John Henry Group, we are extremely excited about partnering with Openreach through this eagerly anticipated network expansion. This will not only provide stability for the current JHG employees and contractors, but will allow us to invest and develop the next generation of operatives, supervision and project management teams”

Simon Burckhardt, Chief Operating Officer at Kelly Group said: “Kelly Group is delighted to be an Openreach partner and warmly welcomes this initiative. As we take up the challenge of providing Full Fibre to UK homes in order to deliver the vision of a Gigabit Britain, we recognise the challenge of recruiting and training the skilled workforce for that build. Kelly Group is delighted to announce significant additional investment in training new engineers in 2021, launching a comprehensive recruitment campaign supporting local communities to build back better. These new skilled jobs will provide long term career opportunities for those who have been affected by the economic consequences of the pandemic, whilst also securing a more productive and competitive future for the UK”

Barry McNicholas, group managing director of Kier Utilities, states: “The telecoms sector has an important role to play in levelling up the connectivity of communities across the UK. Through our partnership with Openreach, we are actively recruiting new talent to join us and help to deliver vital new infrastructure in the south of England. We are proud to be creating a diverse and resilient workforce that is equipped with the skills and expertise to transform the broadband network.”

Conor Foley, MD for KN Circet UK, said; “We are delighted to have been chosen by Openreach to assist with the Full Fibre Project in the UK. Our footprint across the UK has given us an ideal platform to deliver a quality product in a timely and safe manner.

“As we support Openreach with one of the largest infrastructure projects in the UK presently, we have invested in our training facilities and are committed to expanding our highly-skilled telecoms workforce. We will to continue to engage with local talent to support our delivery profile.”

Alan O’Prey, Managing Director at MJ Quinn said: “It is a fantastic accolade for MJ Quinn to be playing such a vital part in building fibre networks for the future. Most recently we have witnessed the vital importance of having access to reliable and robust networks. MJ Quinn are passionate advocates of local jobs for local people and our in-house Recruitment Team will be working tirelessly over the next few months to recruit, train and deploy the next generation of engineers. We are committed to working with our local communities to plug skills gaps and provide work experience to those who need it most. Through our partnership with Openreach, our team will support generations of people in gaining access to technologies, enhancing their professional and personal lives, leaving a legacy for many, many years to come.”

Pat Carolan, Managing Director of Morrison Telecom Services commented: “We are now mobilising to commence works on the delivery of full-fibre broadband to homes and businesses in Scotland, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Essex, West Sussex and Kent over the coming months. Our investment has included the recruitment of 70 trainees to support our survey and design activities, as well as the establishment of training facilities in Risby, Leyland and Blantyre for the onboarding of further recruits for our new civils, cabling and fibre splicing teams. Our short-term objective is to work with local communities on the recruitment of up to 500 people to support our delivery of this critical infrastructure build programme and we will be looking to expand our involvement across the UK as the programme evolves.”

John Maloney, Managing Director of Telecoms at NMCN, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting Openreach’s ambition in helping the UK to build back better, enabling the company to continue improving service levels whilst building and connecting customers to its new, Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband network.

“The need for reliable and fast broadband speeds has never been greater, this year more than ever, we have seen how important it is to have online connectivity, whether it’s to support home working, access digital services such as health and education or to simply to keep in touch with family and friends.

“To support this prestigious contract, we’ll be providing a wealth of career opportunities across all levels in the midlands, as well as rolling out bespoke training to support the programme of works, including upskilling our current teams in order to deliver this vital digital infrastructure and address the future skills challenge.

“We look forward to working on behalf of Openreach to deliver significant economic, social and environmental benefits.”

Ric Welsby, Managing Director of Telent’s Infrastructure Services division, said: “Telent are very proud of the role we are playing in building a more effective and efficient telecoms infrastructure in partnership with Openreach, bringing ultrafast broadband to millions of homes. We are expanding our workforce across the country and helping to train new entrants to our fast growing industry.”

More than 3.5 million premises can now order a gigabit capable Full Fibre broadband service from a range of competing service providers using Openreach’s new network, and the company is on track to reach its target of upgrading 20 million homes and businesses by the mid-to-late 2020s – assuming the right investment conditions exist.

Openreach already employs more than 34,500 people, including more than 25,000 engineers who build, maintain and connect customers to its nationwide broadband network.

Over the last two years, Openreach has created more than 6,500 trainee engineering roles to support its build programme and to deliver improved customers service.

The new trainee apprenticeship roles will be filled during 2021 and come with a starting salary of £21,845 and recruits can be earning up to £28,353 following 12 months of specialist training to achieve an NVQ level 2, in one of Openreach’s world class training centres.

This year, Openreach placed 15th in The Sunday Times ’25 Best Big Companies To Work For’.

To find out more about becoming an Openreach engineer please visit our website at www.openreach.co.uk/te

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