UK digital infrastructure provider Openreach is claiming to have 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 Kelly Group, Kier, MJ Quinn and Telent.
The firm has separately made a commitment to upgrade all 27,000 Openreach vehicles – 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) has 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.
“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,” declared Chancellor Rishi Sunak. “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.”
“I welcome this tremendous investment by Openreach,” added Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden. “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.”
“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,” stated Openreach CEO, Clive Selley. “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.”
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 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.