BT apprentices helping to switch on North Yorkshire Superfast

Yorkshire to benefit from BT plans to create 1,000 apprenticeship and graduate jobs as UK prepares to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 

BT apprentices are playing a key role in the roll-out of superfast broadband across North Yorkshire.

With the multi-million pound Superfast North Yorkshire partnership progressing at pace, a team of apprentice engineers have recently been recruited from across the county to help with the programme.
And even more BT apprenticeships are due to be created in the region this year. Today BT announced that Yorkshire will benefit from plans for 1,000 new apprenticeship and graduate jobs across the UK.

Welcoming the announcement, Prime Minister, The Rt Hon David Cameron said: “I’m delighted that BT is creating 1,000 new apprenticeships and graduate jobs. Today’s announcement underlines BT’s commitment to training young people and gives them the security of a monthly pay packet and the chance of a better future.

“Backing those who want to work hard and get on with the skills they need to succeed is a key part of our long-term economic plan to secure Britain’s recovery.”

In North Yorkshire, apprentice planning engineers are being trained up and given the skills to help plan and build the fibre broadband network, alongside gaining a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in ICT Systems and Principles over two and a half years.
One of the North Yorkshire apprentices is Michael Cussans, 19, from Selby. He joined Openreach, BT’s local network business, in January last year, attracted by the prospect of being able to ‘learn and earn’ towards a skilled job.

He said: “I left college after one year as it just wasn’t for me and I wanted to start earning a wage. I got a job unloading cargo ships at the docks in Goole but I really wanted something that could be a career not just a job.

Michael works as a planning engineer in a team of 15 people based in York, five of whom are fellow apprentices.

He said: “When people think of engineers they imagine someone in a hard hat climbing a telegraph pole or down a manhole somewhere. But as a planning engineer all my work is done from a computer screen. My job is to design the layout of the network so that the field engineers know where to build the fibre.

Michael and his planning team work on a computerised mapping system called PIPeR which includes details of every piece of equipment, structure and length of cable that BT has in the ground for the entire UK. With the PIPeR mapping system Michael has the whole of BT’s infrastructure at his fingertips and can plan networks anywhere in the country from his desktop PC. So far he has helped to plan the new fibre broadband network across North Yorkshire, but has also been helped to design the network build for parts of East Yorkshire, Wales, Staffordshire, Newcastle and even London.

Michael explained how he plans out the network before passing the information to surveyors who go out to check that the plans match with what is actually there before the work is passed to the engineers on the ground.

He said: “When we’re planning a route to put the fibre in the ground you can’t just go from A to B. We have to take into account loads of different factors. We might have to dig across private ground, which means applying for planning permission which could hold things up or the surveyor might go out and find the ducts are all collapsed, or buried or silted up. Occasionally we even discover whole new streets of houses have sprung up or properties have been knocked down so we have to start over. No job is the same, but that is what makes it an interesting challenge – it’s like trying to piece together a massive jigsaw puzzle.”

Michael added that the on-the-job training mean he was quickly able to put theory in the practice on the job. “As part of my training I went out with field engineers and surveyors to learn what happens at the sharp end. The training is great it gives you the confidence to get on with the job but at same time everyone is very supportive in the team if you do get into difficulty.”

Michael is one of hundreds of Openreach engineers involved in the North Yorkshire rollout – who will have helped to have deployed laid around 10,000 kilometres of optical fibre cable in the ground and installed around 660 new fibre broadband cabinets in streets the length and breadth of North Yorkshire by the time the project is completed.

Tom Keeney, BT’s regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Young people like Michael are at the forefront of the fibre revolution that will drive future economic growth across our region whilst at the same time changing for the better the way people communicate, learn to do business and enjoy their spare time.

“This latest recruitment is great news for Yorkshire. The future of the region as a technology leader hinges on young people getting the skills, support and training they need to create successful careers in science, engineering and IT.”

The 1,000 apprenticeship and graduate jobs announced today is in addition to the 1,000 the company created last year and is yet another example of BT investing in the future of the UK.

Youngsters will be working on areas including software development, IT, engineering and digital technology. This week is also National Apprenticeship Week which is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

For up to date information on the Superfast North Yorkshire programme please visitwww.superfastnorthyorkshire.com