BT apprentice in Derbyshire inspires girls to pursue engineering dream

Twenty-year-old Amber Harvey, from Derbyshire, is hoping National Apprenticeship Week will inspire more young women to follow in her footsteps and become engineers.

Twenty-year-old Amber Harvey, from Derbyshire, is hoping National Apprenticeship Week will inspire more young women to follow in her footsteps and become engineers.

Amber joined Openreach, BT’s local network business, as an apprentice in 2014. Since then, she’s completed her training and is now one of a growing number of female engineers working across the county.

As well as climbing up telegraph poles, her day-to-day job is mainly new phone and broadband installations, as well as fixing customers’ faults.

“It’s fixing faults that gives me the most satisfaction,” says Amber. “Overall, our network is very reliable and any issues are few and far between. But when a customer reports a problem with their connection, we’re there to help. And nothing is more pleasing than walking out of a property having sorted everything out, and leaving a happy and grateful customer behind.

“I think people are sometimes surprised when the van pulls up and a 20-year-old girl hops out. I guess they’re probably expecting a man as engineering is very much seen as a male occupation, but we’re all trained to the same standard and, of course, I can work as well as anyone else.”

Amber joined BT’s apprenticeship scheme after spotting an advert online. She’d recently completed her A Levels but was put off applying for university due to the prospect of finishing with lots of debt.

“I submitted my C.V. and was initially invited to an interview followed by a group assessment. I was delighted when I secured my apprenticeship and found the training tough but enjoyable. We had different modules each week including customer service, pole climbing and internal wiring.

“Climbing a pole for the first time was interesting to say the least. We practised on smaller versions before tackling the normal 30 foot poles you see in the street. I do it most days now without a second thought, but learning to trust the safety equipment takes getting used to.”

Once Amber had completed her apprenticeship, she spent five weeks with another engineer providing backup as she learned the ropes. But then it was out by herself, much to the delight of her family.

“Although I think I surprised people with my choice of career, mum and dad have always been very supportive. I think my gran also tells pretty much everyone she meets that her granddaughter works for BT and is an engineer. If I’m completely honest, I do think mum worries about me sometimes, as I’ll often get a text in the morning if it’s a particularly windy day or if there is bad weather forecast.”

And if Amber had one piece of advice for anyone, particularly young women, considering an apprenticeship with Openreach - what would it be?

“You can do it. Absolutely, 100%. Girls make great engineers and there is nothing stopping you making a great career out of it. It’s not as physically demanding as people imagine, and I’d love to see more girls doing this job.

“The male engineers really look out for you as well. There’s a real sense of community within our engineering teams and I think being a young girl, some of the older engineers feel a sense of responsibility. They’ve probably got daughters themselves of a similar age so it’s not uncommon for them to ask if you need a hand carrying your ladders, which is actually quite nice.”

Neal Langham, Amber’s manager and a national operations manager for Openreach, said: “Amber is a shining example of an Openreach apprentice and we’re delighted to have her working across Derbyshire. She’s always done well since joining the company and is completely focussed on providing the best service possible to our customers. She’s a good role model for anyone who’s considering a career in engineering and is unsure about taking their first steps.”

For more information about the Openreach apprenticeship scheme and other fantastic career opportunities at BT please visit www.btplc.com/careercentre.

Find out more online about the 10th National Apprenticeship Week (6-10 March 2017)