by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Openreach, who builds and maintains the largest fixed communications network, has announced plans to hire over 100 new apprentice engineers in Northern Ireland (NI) before the end of March 2021. The announcement, which despite the current economic downturn, marks a doubling of available apprentice opportunities on Openreach’s 2019 intake and a substantial investment in the local economy.


The apprentice engineers will be recruited in Northern Ireland to help deliver Openreach’s Full Fibre build plan, which is building faster, more reliable 1 Gbps capable broadband technology, supporting economic recovery and long-term growth in the region.

Openreach recently unveiled it had reached a significant milestone, with 360,000 homes and businesses, more than 40% of the network, now able to access Full Fibre broadband. This achievement comes as Openreach continues to focus its efforts on building the Full Fibre future-proof broadband network in NI, with an aim of reaching 525,000 premises, which is 60%, by the end of March 2021.

Mairead Meyer, Director Openreach Northern Ireland, said: “Undoubtedly our strength is our people and we’re incredibly proud of skilled and diverse team of over 1000 Openreach people in NI. Our new recruits will join our dynamic engineering team at a really interesting time for Openreach and help support our ambition to deliver the best possible connectivity to everyone, everywhere, across the province. We are continuing to build Full Fibre broadband to over 750 homes and businesses every day. Openreach is one of the biggest investors in infrastructure in Northern Ireland. I am really delighted that in the midst of the current situation we are still able to progress with our apprenticeship development programme doubling the number of places available from last year.”

Speaking about the jobs announcement, Angela McGowan, CBI Northern Ireland Director, said: “The news that Openreach will be hiring over 100 apprentice engineers in Northern Ireland is hugely welcome. The apprenticeship scheme trainees will help deliver infrastructure essential to drive long-term growth in the region and keep it at the forefront of digital technology. This will help develop key skills needed by employers as well as support economic recovery. It’s fantastic to see this programme is open to all, from school leavers to those looking for a career change.”

The apprentice programme runs over 18 months and the roles will be located across NI. On completion, and in conjunction with Belfast Metropolitan College, all apprentices will be awarded an NVQ. Over the course of their training, the newly appointed apprentices will play a role in building and installing reliable, fast and future-proof broadband in NI – helping to meet growing demand for fibre broadband which has seen a significant spike in recent months.

Jordyn Martin (24) from Portavogie, a recent graduate of Openreach’s apprentice scheme, shared her thoughts. She said: “I completed the apprentice programme earlier this year and loved every minute of it. I joined straight from college and spent my first few months out in the field shadowing a ‘buddy’, an experienced engineer, to learn the ropes. As part of the programme I also completed an NVQ in ICT and Telecoms Engineering and now I’m fully qualified engineer.

Mairead Meyer, Director, Openreach Northern Ireland, said: “In recent months, I’ve really seen first-hand the impact that broadband can have on people’s lives. Unsurprisingly, there has been a substantial increase in daytime traffic on the network. Even after the COVID-19 crisis ends, we know that demand is going to continue to increase, especially for Full Fibre broadband. We have already seen orders for Full Fibre installations nearly double on pre lockdown levels. However, we know we can meet this demand, and having our new apprentices on board will really help as we look to the future.”

Applications are open now and will run throughout 2020. Find out more about the Northern Ireland Apprentice Scheme here: –

https://www.bt.com/career/early-careers/apprentices/our-programmes/engineering-services

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