BT to create 1,300 apprenticeship and graduate tech roles

Roles in TV production, engineering, customer service and cyber security offered in telecoms giant’s apprenticeship and graduate scheme

BT is creating technology roles for more than 1,300 apprentices and graduates across the UK in a bid to attract top tech talent.

The telecoms provider aims to recruit apprentices and graduates for roles in TV production, engineering, customer service and cyber security.

The company is seeking people to fill these posts in addition to the 3,500 trainee engineer roles announced by BT Openreach to fulfil its commitment to connect three million premises to full fibre by 2020.

BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said the UK economy “vitally” needs more training for digital skills.

“BT has a rich history of innovation, and it is an incredibly exciting time to be joining the company as we look towards growing our cyber security business, developing 5G technologies and enhanced TV content,” he said. “Our apprenticeship and graduate scheme will equip people with the skills and on-the-job training they will need to succeed in the future.”

One of the areas BT aims to recruit people into is cyber security, with the aim of helping to prevent the cyber crime threats that are becoming increasingly prominent in the media.

BT is not the only organisation with this aim. The government is focusing effort and funding on increasing cyber security skills across the UK to meet demand for professionals with cyber skills.

Young people who are recruited onto the graduate and apprenticeship scheme will take roles across the BT Group business, including within EE and Plusnet in locations such as London, Glasgow, Belfast, Warrington, Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Many will be placed in the firm’s innovation labs in Adastral Park, Suffolk, where BT is developing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), ultrafast broadband and 5G.

Many argue there is a disconnect between the skills firms are demanding from tech graduates and the skills students are acquiring during their education, worsening the tech skills gap because graduates do not have the skills needed to step straight into industry roles.

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BT’s apprenticeship and graduate scheme is partnering with local universities and colleges in an attempt to bridge the gap between the skills taught by education providers and the skills businesses actually need, ensuring candidates get training and industry experience while in the scheme.

Some apprentice candidates will be gain foundation level or full degrees under BT’s scheme, and some graduates will receive fully-funded qualifications.

BT aims to use virtual reality (VR) technology to attract graduates. Candidates will be asked to complete VR tasks similar to those seen in TV programme The Crystal Maze, with their analytical skills, adaptability and enthusiasm measured as they go through the assessment process.

Others firms involved in tech employment have found that alternative recruitment practices can take the bias out of hiring to ensure a more mixed candidate pool, and BT’s apprenticeships application website highlights the value of diversity in its business.

Prime minister Theresa May has “welcomed” BT’s drive to find more tech apprentices and graduates. “More high-quality apprenticeships means more young people with the vital skills and training to take advantage of the economic opportunities of the future,” she said.

“Our modern Industrial Strategy, in conjunction with business, will help drive developments in fields like artificial intelligence and cyber technology – meaning more high-tech jobs and greater prosperity for people across the country.”

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