Openreach has today announced plans to create 5,300 new engineering jobs in a major boost for UK employment.
The new roles will be located in communities across the country, with 2,500 full-time jobs in its own service and around 2,800 in its UK supply chain, through partners such as Kelly Group, Kier and MJ Quinn.
The announcement, which has been welcomed by both Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden, includes a pledge to upgrade all 27,000 Openreach vehicles – the second largest commercial fleet in the UK – to electric by 2030.
The firm said it wants to “build back better and greener” – and that it has bucked the “prevailing economic trend”. The jobs are to be filled during 2021.
Openreach CEO, Clive Selley, said: “As a major employer and infrastructure builder, we believe Openreach can play a leading role in helping the UK to build back better and greener.
“Our full fibre network build is going faster than ever and we’re now looking for thousands more people to build a career with Openreach and help us upgrade broadband connections and continue improving service levels.
“We’re also investing in our supply chain, which will support the creation of thousands of jobs based all over the UK.
“We know the network we’re building can deliver a host of green benefits – from consuming less power to enabling more home working and fewer commuting trips – and we’re going to take that a step further, by committing to build and maintain that network using state of the art electric vehicles across our 27,000-strong fleet. We’ll have completely transitioned to electric vehicles by 2030.”
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Openreach said the move will enable it to continue building and connecting customers to its new “ultrafast, ultra-reliable” full fibre broadband network “at a record pace”.
The announcement came as the firm hit a record build rate for its full fibre broadband programme – which aims to reach 20 million homes and businesses by the mid-to-late 2020s.
Openreach said its engineers are now delivering faster, more reliable connectivity to another 40,000 homes and businesses every week, or the equivalent of a home every 15 seconds.
The pandemic has accelerated changes in working patterns and, with full fibre, nearly 2m more people than previously estimated could also choose to work from home in the long term, reducing transport and housing pressures in big cities and boosting local and rural economies across the country.
Responding to Friday’s announcement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Throughout this crisis I’ve been clear that our number one economic priority is to protect jobs so I’m delighted to welcome this announcement of 5,000 new skilled roles.
“We’re investing billions of pounds across the UK as part of our Plan for Jobs to ensure nobody is left without hope or opportunity.”
Openreach already employs more than 34,500 people, including more than 25,000 engineers.
Included among the 5,300 new jobs are 200 in the South West, 164 in the West Midlands, and 255 in the North West. 275 will be located in Scotland.
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “I welcome this tremendous investment by Openreach. It will help us build back better from the pandemic and create thousands of new, high skilled jobs delivering faster broadband to people across the UK.
“The plans are a huge step forward in our national mission to level up Britain’s digital infrastructure and, alongside the government’s £5 billion investment, will make sure even the hardest-to-reach areas get a lightning fast gigabit broadband connection.”