Kirklees apprentice helping to switch on West Yorkshire

The Superfast West Yorkshire project, aims to extend high-speed fibre broadband to 97 per cent of homes and businesses across a majority of West Yorkshire by the end of 2015.

To help deliver this big promise, a team of budding BT apprentices have been enlisted from 66 based in West Yorkshire.

The group is 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.

Kirklees teenager James Crossley joined BT’s local network business Openreach last summer – attracted by the idea of ‘learning and earning’ on the job, whilst working towards a recognised qualification.

Nineteen year-old James from Cleckheaton has already gained plenty of experience helping to connect up people’s homes to the new fibre enabled green roadside cabinets.

He said: “It’s great seeing people’s reactions when they switch on their computer and see how quickly they can do things. I have fibre at home and so that helps when you’re explaining to customers the things you can do with high-speed broadband.”

As well as helping customers James, who is a keen model maker, has used his modelling skills to teach other new recruits. In his spare time James has built a detailed model of the broadband network to help other apprentices visualise and remember the different joints and connections on which they work as engineers.

James said: “I realised that it can be daunting trying to visualise all the different joints if you only have them explained in words. Being able to see accurate mini-versions of the joints on the model helps you to remember everything you need to do much more easily.”

His bosses were so impressed that his model has been adopted by one of Openreach’s apprentice training centres.

James is currently learning how to connect up and maintain BT’s copper phone lines and admitted his biggest challenge so far was more of a physical than a technical one.

He said: “I’m fine with connecting up the wires and working inside a cabinet, but part of my training for being able to connect a phone line involved being able work up a telegraph pole. The first time I went up it was pretty nerve wracking. You have to lean out in a safety harness while you’re working at the top of the pole and that was a bit scary at first but now I love it and its one of my favourite things to do.”

James added: “I’ve really enjoyed my first year and I’m looking forward to where this job will take me next. Eventually I’d quite like to get into training and teaching other apprentices.”

Tom Keeney, BT’s regional director for Yorkshire and Humber, said: “Young people like James 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.”

Leeds City Council, Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Wakefield Council and Calderdale Council are working with BT on the Superfast West Yorkshire programme to bring fibre broadband to premises not currently included in the private sector’s commercial roll-out plans.

The £21.96 million project and BT’s commercial fibre broadband roll-out programme will make the technology available to around 700,000 West Yorkshire homes and businesses. It also aims to ensure all premises in the project area have access to speeds of more than 2Mbps.

The investment is made up of Government funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) combined with funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), BT and four West Yorkshire local authorities.


For photos of the SFWY deployment go here;


Notes to editors

Superfast Britain is a Government investment of £1.08bn in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio comprises three linked programmes:
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.
For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk

About Superfast West Yorkshire

Superfast West Yorkshire is a partnership between all five West Yorkshire local authorities and BT.
The partnership is jointly funded by Broadband Delivery UK (part of Department of Culture, Media and Sport), European Regional Development Funds (ERDF), local authority funds and BT investments.
The initiative, which is supported by the Leeds City Region Partnership, will ensure more businesses and residents across West Yorkshire get access to fibre broadband.
Superfast West Yorkshire aims to stimulate demand for superfast broadband across West Yorkshire and will also deliver a Business Support Programme to support businesses to maximise the opportunities superfast broadband can provide.