Openreach announces massive job creation plan for gigabit network deployment

New green fleet for engineers as BT broadband provision aims to create 2,500 new roles in its own organisation and about 2,800 with partners to supporting full-fibre network build-out

BT’s broadband provision division, Openreach, has announced a massive job creation programme.

The new roles, located in communities throughout the country, are designed enable the company to continue improving service levels across its existing networks, while building and connecting customers to its new, full-fibre broadband network.

The expansion includes more than 2,500 full-time jobs in its service and network build divisions, and about 2,800 positions in its UK supply chain, through partners such as Kelly Group, Kier, MJ Quinn and Telent. Of the positions, 2,552 will be in direct labour and there will be 2,800 subcontractor roles, of which 1,600 are in service delivery, 700 chief engineering, and 500 in fibre network and delivery.

The announcement comes as BT hit a record build rate for its full-fibre broadband programme, which has set out to reach 20 million homes and businesses by the mid- to late 2020s – “on the assumption that we obtain the required critical enablers”, it says. Openreach engineers are said to be delivering high-speed connectivity to 40,000 more homes and businesses every week – the equivalent of a home every 15 seconds.

Openreach said the Covid-19 pandemic had accelerated changes in working patterns and that with full-fibre, nearly two million more people than previously estimated could 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

In an example of the latter, Openreach recently announced that in the next step in the transformation of Salisbury from cathedral city to digital powerhouse, customers in the Wiltshire city will no longer be able to buy a traditional copper landline or broadband product, and instead will only be able to order fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP or full-fibre) technology.

Backing up its claim, Openreach cited the Centre for Economics and Business Research, which found that a nationwide full-fibre broadband network would boost UK productivity by £59bn by 2025 – and updated modelling suggests it could enable nearly one million more people to access employment, including more than 300,000 carers, 250,000 older workers and 400,000 parents.

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“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,” said 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 are also investing in our supply chain, which will support the creation of thousands of jobs all over the UK.”

Openreach also noted that the full-fibre network offered green benefits, from consuming less power to enabling more home working and fewer commuting trips. Taking this further, the company committed to build and maintain that network using state-of-the-art electric vehicles across its 27,000-strong fleet and said it will have completely transitioned to such vehicles by 2030.

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