Digital HRDigital TransformationBuilding a workforce with skills for the future

Building a workforce with skills for the future

With the world of work rapidly changing around us, Kevin Brady, HR Director at Openreach elaborates on what they are doing to stay ahead of the digital economy.

As the UK’s digital network business, Openreach supports more than 680 Communications Providers such as BT, Sky and Talk Talk – connecting their customers to landline, mobile, broadband, TV and data services across the country.

Over the last decade, we’ve built a fibre network which covers almost 28m homes and businesses – connecting thousands of schools, hospitals, banks, mobile masts and large businesses.

We’re committed to building the infrastructure the UK needs to stay ahead in the global digital economy and I believe that our heavy investment in an ultrafast ‘Full Fibre’ network will help to future proof the UK for generations to come.

Earlier this year we announced plans to roll out full-fibre broadband to another 11 locations across the nation, bringing our total to 25 towns, cities and boroughs.

With plans to bring full-fibre broadband to three million homes and buildings by 2020, and ten million by the mid-2020s subject to the right conditions – we need a large team of talented engineers to roll-out the latest in broadband infrastructure.

As we move into a post-Brexit world, with potentially less European workers in the UK and unemployment at record low levels, it’s my job as HR Director to work even harder to win a bigger slice of the best talent in the UK labour market.

So right now, we are in the midst of the largest recruitment drive in the history of our business.

This year we’ll be hiring 3,000 new trainee engineers – spread across every single region and nation of the country. The latest wave of new recruits will join the 3,500 trainee engineers hired in 2018.

Our new recruits start on c.£21k per year, rising to £28k after just 12 months on completion of their traineeship. Engineers working in London will also receive a London weighting allowance of either £3,380 in inner London or £1,670 in outer London. And, after completing their first 12 months, new recruits receive a BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Professional Competence for IT and Telecoms, which equates to a Diploma for Information Technology & Telecommunications at SCQF Level in Scotland.

At Openreach, we’re not just offering you a job, we’re offering a chance to build a successful career at a really exciting time for our business.

As many HR Directors struggle to find employees with a diverse range of skills needed for jobs today, we at Openreach want people from all walks of life to apply for roles with us. Our aim is to build a diverse workforce that reflects the hugely diverse communities we serve throughout Britain.

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We’re working hard to attract more women into our workforce, and last year our intake of female engineers was higher than in previous years. The number of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people we have recruited has also risen nationally from 11% in 2017 to 17% in 2018.

Any organisation that isn’t open and inclusive in the way that it works, won’t win the war for talent.

Attracting and keeping great engineers is one thing, but we want to offer the very best training – equipping them with the tools, techniques and the skills for the future.

We are on a mission to build or upgrade 12 new training centres across the UK. With one already up and running in Bradford and a second recently opened in Peterborough, these centres are the very first of their kind – and something our trainees and I are very excited about.

The ‘Open Street’ layout is a mock-up of a typical suburban street – complete with houses, shops and pavements. It gives our new recruits the chance to learn in a realistic, immersive, but entirely controlled, environment. We’ll be rolling out ten more of these innovative centres over the coming months and years.

All this means that we have now doubled our number of learning days a year to over 160,000, and this will only continue to rise. And in recognition, we were recently awarded one of just 48 Princess Royal Training Awards and won the Training Journal (TJ) Award for Best Private Sector Initiative.

I am a firm believer that as an employer, it’s our responsibility to keep our engineers learning, growing and engaged. And it’s my personal vision that we put training at the heart of what we do.

Openreach is one of a few UK businesses that touch the lives of almost everyone. Our engineers help businesses and families in every corner of the UK and there has never been a more exciting time to join our team.

Together, we will continue to drive the UK’s digital revolution.

Find out more about our Trainee Engineer Scheme at www.openreach.co.uk/careers

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