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ISP County Broadband Calls on UK Gov to Fuel More Engineers

Friday, August 28th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 1,290
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The CEO of Rural ISP County Broadband, Lloyd Felton, has called on the UK Government to put more “resources and training opportunities into the engineering industry” in order to help tackle the shortage of skilled “full fibre” engineers, which are needed in order to keep the roll-out of gigabit-capable broadband moving.

At present a lot of network operators are in the process of building new Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband networks (Summary of Full Fibre Progress), which has put an industry-wide strain on existing contractors (i.e. not enough skilled civil engineers to meet demand in a timely fashion).

Similarly, County Broadband – supported by a £46m investment from Aviva – plans to extend their own fibre network across 20,000 premises in the rural East of England (Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire etc.) by the end of 2020. As part of that they’ve already grown their workforce by 500% in the last year alone and it’s a similar story at other operators.

The Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA), which represents various alternative broadband ISPs and network builders, recently echoed these concerns by calling for “urgent investment” toward training and apprenticeships in the telecoms sector to help skill-up new engineers (here).

Lloyd Felton, CEO of County Broadband, said:

“Recent events have highlighted just how important next generation broadband access is going to be. The government has rightly placed a high priority on broadband provision, including awarding key-worker status to network engineers.

We are proud to have completed the delivery of our new Hyperfast networks in rural Essex benefiting thousands of residents and businesses during such a difficult and challenging time and have many more local networks in build and nearing completion.

Upgrading the region’s digital infrastructure will play a central role in boosting the economic recovery and this requires a shovel-ready pipeline of engineers, IT technicians and other skilled industry specialists.

Subsequently, we need a firm commitment from the government to direct enough resources and training opportunities into the engineering industry, and whilst we pledge to play our role to help identify and train future-ready local talent, we will continue to work with and support INCA in ensuring the rapidly-evolving industry gets the funding assurances we need.”

The comment comes after a new Opinium survey by County Broadband, which was conducted during May 2020 with 1,000 adults living in rural England and 1,000 in urban areas, found that nine in ten residents relied on broadband to work from home while 68% spent more than four hours a day online.

Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar A_Builder says:

    Everyone running a construction company would agree with that.

    The problem is: worthless milk-bottle-top qualification run by an expensive and incompetent qualifications industry. Most of the assessors have watched a video on how to assess, say a carpentry, NVQ rather than being a 20yr experienced craftsman.

    This all kicked off when the FE colleges main function of trades training was dismantled. The CITB was then created to solve the problem and frankly made it a lot worse.

    You then stir in the very toxic and burdensome health and safety culture – H&S being used to achieve things simple competence would achieve.

    I want people to be Healthy and Safe but not this way. Germany and the Scandi countries manage without our crazy regime and they are well respected for worker safety.

  2. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    H&S has been turned into a type of political correctness now, like many things in the UK (saving the environment, HS2, any number of the UK govs “infrastructure” schemes) its just a method to increase wealth to a select few rather than do the job it was created for.

  3. Avatar FibreBubble says:

    If they offer jobs that have good terms and conditions and are well paid they will attract people. Don’t see why the government should get involved.

    As the job involves heights, confined spaces, winching and live traffic, probably best not to tell potential staff Health and Safety is not important.

    1. Avatar Rob says:

      Good point.
      Frontline telecoms engineering pay and conditions are rubbish. It’s a very cut-throat business and no company is going to invest in training if gets nothing back from it.

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