Openreach to create more than 400 South West jobs, including 300 apprenticeships

Broadband giant Openreach has announced plans to create more than 400 jobs in the South West, including nearly 300 apprenticeships.

The provider, which currently employs 3,500 people in the region, said the new roles were part of its largest ever recruitment drive as it continues to invest billions of pounds into its network, people and training.

Nationally the company is looking to add 4,000 people, of which 3,000 will be apprentices, as it looks for engineers to continue work on its full fibre broadband network.

OpenReach said the build is on track to reach 25 million UK businesses and homes by December 2026, and had already reached nearly 600,000 properties in the South West. The company recently announced a £12.5m rollout of the network across a further eight South West locations.

OpenReach said it was also committing to building a more diverse and inclusive workforce in an industry which it said had traditionally been “very white, male dominated”.

Last year, the company recruited 600 women into trainee engineering roles – more than double the previous year. In the South West, 19% of engineers hired in 2021 were women, against a target of 20% for the coming year.

The company said the boost was thanks partly to employing language experts from Exeter University to transform its job adverts and descriptions, making them gender neutral.

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Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach, said: “We want to reflect the communities we serve and give opportunities to people from all backgrounds, so I’m encouraged that we’ve recruited more women and minority groups this year compared to last year, but we’ve got much more to do in an industry that hasn’t been very diverse historically.

“These new recruits will play a crucial role as we continue to improve services for our customers and build the biggest and best broadband network in the UK, covering millions of rural and urban homes.”

Openreach also plans to retrain more than 3,000 of its existing engineers during the next year – changing their focus from fixing older, copper-based technologies to installing and maintaining faster, more reliable fibre connections.

The company said it would train engineers from all over the UK in its recently refurbished learning and development centre in Exeter, where it expects to deliver 11,000 training days during the 2022/23 financial year.

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