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Scottish Minister connects with Openreach apprentices at Livingston training centre

Press Release   •   Mar 10, 2017 10:55 GMT

PICTURED L-R apprentice Stuart Doherty, Fergus Ewing MSP, apprentice Adam Archibald and Stuart Doherty all apprentice engineers

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity met with Openreach apprentices at the company’s Livingston training facilities during Scottish Apprenticeship Week (6 - 11 March).

Fergus Ewing MSP met six apprentices, all recruited during 2015/16, who help install and repair fibre broadband networks across the country. They showed the minister how to “splice” fibre cable together, before demonstrating their pole climbing skills. The Livingston training centre is one of two facilities used to train Openreach engineers in Scotland, the other in Dundee. New recruits, including apprentices, spend their first weeks at a training centre, though it takes up to two years to become a fully qualified engineer.

Last week, BT announced plans to recruit around 145 new apprentices and graduates across Scotland in areas such as engineering, cyber-security and customer service. Openreach, BT’s local network business, is expected to announce its apprentice and graduate recruitment plans in the coming weeks.

Last year, BT and Openreach recruited more than 100 apprentices in Scotland to help meet rising demand for superfast broadband services and as part of earlier commitments to bring customer service jobs back to the UK.

Mr Ewing said: “I am delighted to visit BT’s training centre here in Livingston today to see first-hand how our Modern Apprentices are keeping Scotland connected.

“The Scottish Government has committed to support people looking for access into rewarding careers and high quality jobs and we recognise that Apprenticeships promote economic development, reduce unemployment and match skills to the current and future needs of the labour market.

“Since this Government came into office we have delivered 200,000 apprentice places and we are now committed to supporting 30,000 new MA opportunities annually by 2020.”

Joining Openreach as an engineering apprentice in 2015, Adam Archibald from Larkhall (19), demonstrated some of the skills he’s gained to the minister. Adam said: “I’d been accepted to study sports science at university but I didn’t fancy four more years of mainly being in classrooms. During my apprenticeship, I’ve had lots of help from experienced engineers and I’ve developed really quickly.

“Before I joined Openreach, I’d not been away from home apart from on holiday. Working across Scotland with new colleagues, learning as I go, has been really rewarding. I’m excited at all of the opportunities available to me and it’s great to know I’m helping people get superfast broadband.”

Skills Development Scotland (SDS), which is co-ordinating activities during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, welcomed BT’s recent announcement about new apprentice and graduate opportunities.

SDS Director of Digital Services, George Boag, said: “BT are a great example of an employer who see the business benefits of apprentices day-in and day-out.

“The investment they are making to their workforce and business infrastructure is encouraging for the communications industry in Scotland.

“If you are an employer looking to build a skilled, motivated workforce through apprenticeships, SDS can offer advice and support in person and via website www.apprenticeships.scot.”

BT employs around 7,400 people in Scotland, including in Openreach and EE. The company also supports around 12,600 jobs in Scotland through direct employment, spending with contractors, suppliers, and the spending of employees.

Information on apprentice roles, as well as job applications, can be found online at www.bt.com/apprentice

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About Openreach

Openreach is the UK’s leading digital infrastructure provider.

Its 32,000 employees are responsible for building and maintaining millions of miles of fibre and copper cables that connect every home and business in the UK to local telephone exchanges. Openreach operates and maintains this network to deliver a range of wholesale services for more than 560 retail providers, who in-turn provide telephony, broadband, TV and data services to more than 30 million consumer and business customers throughout the country.

Openreach is a highly regulated business, with more than 90 per cent of its revenues generated from services that are regulated by Ofcom. Any company can access its products under exactly the same prices, terms and conditions.

Over the last decade, Openreach has invested more than £10bn into its network and is currently building the UK’s largest fibre broadband footprint. This technology is available to more than 26 million homes and businesses, with tens of thousands more gaining access each week.

Openreach is a wholly owned and independently governed division of the BT Group. For the year ended 31 March 2016, it reported revenues of £5.1bn.

For more information, visit openreach.co.uk

About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services. BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Global Services, Business and Public Sector, Consumer, EE, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 20161, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,012m with reported profit before taxation of £2,907m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

1The results for the period have been revised to reflect the outcome of the investigation into our Italian business. Detail of which is set out in our third quarter results announcement published on 27 January 2017. This financial information is unaudited.

For more information, visit www.btplc.com