Last week’s deal with Ofcom to begin the “legal separation” of BT’s network access division (here) has begun a process that will also see Openreach hire an additional 1,500 UK telecoms and broadband engineers in order to help boost their service quality and performance.
The new recruitment drive is expected to take place over the next eight months and follows hot on the heels of several similar announcements from BT’s Consumer and Mobile (EE) division (here and here). At present the BT Group as a whole employs aroundt 80,000 people across the United Kingdom and 32,000 of those will soon be transferred to the legally separate Openreach division.
Ofcom’s related Strategic Review also promised to introduce even tougher minimum service quality requirements, which are intended to push Openreach into repairing faults and installing new lines more quickly. In addition, Openreach’s forthcoming commercial roll-out of G.fast broadband technology and their ramping-up of the FTTP deployment will also benefit from having a few extra hands on-board.
As a result of that Openreach’s CEO, Clive Selley, yesterday told staff that he expects most of the new recruits to find jobs within their network maintenance teams and that in turn should bring down their fault rate and improve the service. We’ve seen similar moves like this before and as a result Openreach has tended to stay ahead of Ofcom’s performance targets.
The regulator will shortly begin their next ‘2017 Wholesale Local Access Market Review‘ which, aside from re-examining the wholesale price of superfast broadband services, will also aim to define the next batch of performance targets for Openreach. The new recruitment drive is thus Openreach’s attempt to stay ahead of any expectations that Ofcom might set.
UPDATE 20th March 2017
As reported above Openreach has today confirmed a “major expansion of its engineering workforce” with plans to recruit 1,500 trainees as part of its drive to improve customer service and invest in the operation of its network. Apparently an initial intake of 119 recruits will join the company in April, followed by around 60 new recruits joining each week through to mid-October.
Potential candidates will also be able to discover what life as a field engineer involves, with the help of Virtual Reality (VR). The company is trialling a VR experience which enables interested applicants to don a headset and experience climbing a telephone pole or exploring the local exchange building in 3D, from the perspective of a real engineer.
Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach, said:
“Improving customer service is our number one priority so we’re investing in our people to make sure we deliver.
Our customers need us to install new lines and repair our network faster than ever, and by increasing the number of people working on proactive network maintenance, we can fix more issues before people even notice them.
We are also continuing to roll out superfast broadband services at scale and making big investments in our network to make ultrafast broadband available to up to 12 million homes by the end of 2020. We want to recruit the very best people to help us on that journey and our new trainee engineering roles will offer people the hands on experience they need to succeed.”
We note that the aforementioned VR / 360 degree videos are available to watch on Openreach’s YouTube channel and can be viewed on any PC, tablet or VR headset. The videos include an engineer’s eye view from the top of a telephone pole, a virtual tour of a telephone exchange and a look inside a green roadside cabinet.