BT Doubles Apprentice Jobs To Help With Fibre Rollout

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BT is adding another 200 apprentice jobs to help the carrier with its rollout of fibre services in the UK

BT is doubling the number of roles it offers in its apprentice scheme, as the UK carrier seeks to train a new generation of telephone engineers.

“The update is that we’re now doubling our intake of apprentices this autumn given the number of strong applications we received and the fact we’re keen to train young people to help us deliver fibre broadband over the next few years,” said BT. “This second wave of recruitment will see Openreach recruit more than 200 further people by Christmas.”

Long Running Scheme

BT has being running apprenticeship scheme for fifty years now, although the carrier’s predecessor (the GPO) is known to have recruited apprentices since the 1860s.

This year a staggering 24,000 people registered for the 221 BT apprenticeship positions. To provide an interesting comparison, 17,000 students applied for 3,000 places for places at Oxford University, which starkly illustrates the intense competition for the BT scheme.

BT apprentices tend to start on salaries between £12,000 and £15,000 with successful candidates specialising in either IT, telecoms, electrical systems or customer service and studying for a BTEC or foundation degree.

“The new wave of apprentices will be focused on helping BT with its fibre broadband roll out and so they will be recruited by Openreach, our local access network business,” said BT. “This roll out, which is one of the fastest in the world (we are passing the equivalent of Singapore every quarter), is already well underway with more than two million premises now having access to fibre broadband. That number will increase to four million by the end of 2010, with BT planning to pass 10 million premises in 2012, and two-thirds of UK premises (approx 16.5 million premises) in 2015.”

Fibre For All

“We are also hoping to get beyond two-thirds of UK premises by working with the public sector,” said BT. We have existing partnerships in Northern Ireland and Cornwall that are helping to deliver fibre to rural areas and the government said they’d make £530 million available to help companies, such as ourselves, which have open networks reach other rural areas.”

BT experienced some criticism last year when it announced that it was cancelling its graduate recruitment programme in 2009. In September this year it was reinstated when BT announced its return to the university milk-round circuit, with the decision to seek 133 recruits for its 2011 graduate scheme.

A BT spokesman told eWEEK Europe UK that its graduate scheme targeted university graduates, not school leavers, which its apprenticeship scheme focuses on.

“Effectively we are doubling our 220 apprenticeship roles by adding an extra 200 roles,” said the BT spokesman. “Most of these will be earmarked for Openreach engineers and they will be the guys and girls going out and installing fibre-to-premise or fibre-to-cabinet.”

The doubling of its apprenticeship intake will be welcome news for the jobs market. BT announced last year plans to lay off 15,000 staff but the carrier stressed that all those redundancies were done on a voluntary basis.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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