BT apprentices helping to switch on West Yorkshire

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 West Yorkshire.

With the multi million pound Superfast West Yorkshire partnership progressing at pace a team of apprentice engineers have recently been recruited from across West Yorkshire 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 West Yorkshire, apprentice engineers are being trained up and given the skills to install and maintain fibre broadband, alongside gaining a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in ICT Systems and Principles over two and a half years.

One of the West Yorkshire apprentices is Melissa Hargreaves, 21, from Baildon. She joined Openreach, BT’s local network business, last summer – after deciding to her take career in an entirely new direction.

Melissa said: “Before joining I had spent four years as a carer for animals at a kennels and cattery, so this was a major departure, but I have always been a practical person and like working outside, so this really appealed to me.”

Melissa revealed she is the only woman in a team of twenty trainees but that she had been made to feel at home from the moment she joined.

“Being the only girl doesn’t bother me, I have never been treated any differently because of it. Sometimes customers are surprised to see a female face but then they are always positive and want to know how I got into it. I might be the only one in my team but there are more and more women coming into the role.”

She added: “A bigger challenge for me was learning about the physical network side of things. At first I was absolutely baffled and thought ‘how am I ever going to get the hang of this?’ I don’t have a science or technical background and the job I was doing before couldn’t have been more different.”

However, Melissa said the on-the-job training meant she was quickly able to get to grips with the technical side.

“I’m much better at learning by putting things into practice rather than reading a text book. Part of my training involved ‘buddying up’ with a experienced engineer and going out on real-life jobs with them. That really helped and I soon took to it like a duck to water.”

Melissa has already gained plenty of experience helping to connect up people’s homes to the new fibre enabled green roadside cabinets.

She said: “I really enjoy going to people’s houses and dealing with customers, every single job is different and you get to meet people from all walks of life. When you’re out and about and people see the uniform it always gets lots of attention. The amount of questions you get is unbelievable. One thing people always want to know is when they can get fibre. You definitely need good people skills and an ability to use your initiative.”

Melissa admitted the job of a telephone engineer probably wasn’t at the top of the list of job choices for many girls her age but urged those who are still undecided about a career path to think again.

“There are absolutely no barriers to women doing this job. Now that I’ve managed to get this far I can honestly say there is no other job I’d rather do. It can lead to lots of other opportunities as well such as training or management roles. The other great thing about doing the apprenticeship is that you can earn while you learn and gain a recognised qualification at the end of it,” she said.

Tom Keeney, BT’s regional director for Yorkshire and Humber said: “Young people like Melissa are at the forefront of the fibre revolution that will drive future economic growth across West Yorkshire 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 West Yorkshire programme please visitwww.superfastwestyorkshire.co.uk


The Superfast West Yorkshire programme is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs.

For more information visit www.communities.gov.uk/erdf