Lancashire apprentices get up to speed to boost fibre broadband roll-out

Young recruits at forefront of Lancashire’s 
superfast fibre broadband future; 
Preston youngsters are among new apprentices looking forward to ‘learning and earning’ 

Meet the class of 2014 who are helping to rollout high-speed broadband across Lancashire…. 

These 10 young people are among the latest apprentices to join Openreach, the BT 
Group business which builds and maintains the local network for all providers of telephone 
and broadband services. 

This particular group has a very special remit. They have been recruited specifically 
to work on the Superfast Lancashire partnership between BT and Lancashire County 

Council that will bring high-speed fibre broadband to 97 per cent of the county by the end of 

The eight young men and two young women - who hail from across the county 
– were all attracted by the idea of ‘learning and earning’ on the job, whilst working towards a 
recognised qualification – a BTECH NVQ Level 3 in ICT (information and communications 

As well as undergoing formal training to learn how to design and plan the new fibre 
network, over the next few months they’ll be buddying up with engineers – including teams 
who install the underground network as well as telephone poles - and other BT colleagues 
from around the company. 

This group of apprentices has something else in common. Perhaps not surprisingly 
they’re all avid internet users and are therefore extremely excited about joining the team 
that’s helping to bring high-speed fibre broadband to nearly every corner of Lancashire. 

The group will be based in Preston, which is also home to four of the apprentices – 
Adam Shepherd, Ben Jarvis, Jake Rheade and Joe Fenerty. 

Several of the apprentices are already enjoying faster fibre broadband at home. 

Josh McNeil, aged 20, from Chorley, said: “I’ve been using fibre for about eight 
months now. Right from the start the difference was incredible. I used to only get around two 
megabits per second, but then speeds got 40 times faster. 

“I use it for all sorts of things – from online gaming and streaming, to downloading 

At 16, Yasemin Sunbul, from Blackburn, is the youngest recruit. She joined 
Openreach after completing her GCSEs. It was her interest in engineering that first attracted 
her to the apprenticeship – an interest which is eclipsed only by her passion for iceskating, 
in which she hopes to one day represent her country at an international level. 
She added: “The internet’s great for all sorts of social media, as well as for doing 
online shopping and getting news updates.” 

‘Keeping it in the family’ are Joe Fenerty and Adam Shepherd, both from Preston, 
and Jess Duckworth, from Burnley. 

Joe, aged 19, is the third generation of his family to join BT Group, following in the 
footsteps of dad, Alan - who works as a fibre broadband engineer - his now retired 
grandfather, Joe Caton – as well as his uncles, Adrian Johal and Lee Caton. 

He said: “I know it will be totally different from anything I’ve done before, but the work 
really interests me – and obviously came highly recommended! 

“I’ve had fibre broadband at home for about six months now and the difference is 
amazing. I could hardly do anything online before, but now it’s great for interactive online 
gaming, as well as things like Twitter and Facebook, and watching things like BT Sport.” 

Jess, aged 18, follows in the footsteps of her father, Kelsey, who is a planning 
manager for Openreach, said: “It will be great to earn money while I’m learning. I’m really 
looking forward to learning more about the business, and achieving set goals and challenges 
along the way. 

“I use fibre broadband at home, so I know how important it is.” 
Meanwhile, Adam, from Preston, also follows in the footsteps of his father, David 

Adam, whose hobbies include playing football and online gaming, said: “I’ve been 
using fibre at home for about six months now. I use it for things like social media and 
interactive gaming on my X-box, as well as for watching BT Sport.” 

Councillor Sean Serridge, Lancashire County Council’s champion for digital inclusion, 
said: “It’s great to see these first 10 apprentices, specifically recruited to work on the 
Superfast Lancashire project, now in post. 

“One of the key aims of the project has always been to boost local businesses and 
create jobs, so I’m really pleased see these young people, who come from across 
Lancashire, both contributing to the project and benefitting so directly from it.” 
Steve Edwards, BT director for Next Generation Access for the north of the UK, said: 

“These young people are at the forefront of the fibre revolution that will drive future economic 
growth across Lancashire whilst at the same time changing for the better the way people 
communicate, learn, do business and enjoy their spare time.” 

Superfast Lancashire is a partnership between Lancashire County Council and BT, 
with additional funding from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK, as well as the 
European Regional Development Fund, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Blackpool 

The rapid progress of the Superfast Lancashire project means that more than 
350,000 Lancashire homes and businesses – 52 per cent of all premises in the county – can 
now get access to high-speed fibre broadband, when BT’s commercial rollout of fibre 
broadband is taken into account. 

Engineers have also begun planning and building the next phase of the Superfast 
Lancashire project – providing a further 21,500 homes and businesses with access to high- 
speed broadband by the end of March. Once this phase of the rollout is complete, this will 
take the total number of premises able to access faster broadband as a direct result of the 
project to more than 39,000, with tens of thousands more premises to follow over the coming 
year under subsequent phases of the rollout. 

In addition to the roll-out of high-speed broadband across the county, a Business 

Support Centre has opened as part of Superfast Lancashire and is run by a team of 
specialists to advise small and medium-sized businesses across the county how to use the 
new technology to enhance their business. 

More information is available from: www.superfastlancashire.com 


Issued by the BT regional press office. For more information please contact Emma Tennant on 0800 085 0660 or email: emma.tennant@bt.com 
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