Scottish Minister connects with Openreach apprentices at Livingston training centre

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity met with Openreach apprentices at the company’s Livingston training facilities during Scottish Apprenticeship Week (6 - 11 March)

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity met with Openreach apprentices at the company’s Livingston training facilities during Scottish Apprenticeship Week (6 - 11 March).

Fergus Ewing MSP met six apprentices, all recruited during 2015/16, who help install and repair fibre broadband networks across the country. They showed the minister how to “splice” fibre cable together, before demonstrating their pole climbing skills. The Livingston training centre is one of two facilities used to train Openreach engineers in Scotland, the other in Dundee. New recruits, including apprentices, spend their first weeks at a training centre, though it takes up to two years to become a fully qualified engineer.

Last week, BT announced plans to recruit around 145 new apprentices and graduates across Scotland in areas such as engineering, cyber-security and customer service. Openreach, BT’s local network business, is expected to announce its apprentice and graduate recruitment plans in the coming weeks.

Last year, BT and Openreach recruited more than 100 apprentices in Scotland to help meet rising demand for superfast broadband services and as part of earlier commitments to bring customer service jobs back to the UK.

Mr Ewing said: “I am delighted to visit BT’s training centre here in Livingston today to see first-hand how our Modern Apprentices are keeping Scotland connected.

“The Scottish Government has committed to support people looking for access into rewarding careers and high quality jobs and we recognise that Apprenticeships promote economic development, reduce unemployment and match skills to the current and future needs of the labour market.

“Since this Government came into office we have delivered 200,000 apprentice places and we are now committed to supporting 30,000 new MA opportunities annually by 2020.”

Joining Openreach as an engineering apprentice in 2015, Adam Archibald from Larkhall (19), demonstrated some of the skills he’s gained to the minister. Adam said: “I’d been accepted to study sports science at university but I didn’t fancy four more years of mainly being in classrooms. During my apprenticeship, I’ve had lots of help from experienced engineers and I’ve developed really quickly.

“Before I joined Openreach, I’d not been away from home apart from on holiday. Working across Scotland with new colleagues, learning as I go, has been really rewarding. I’m excited at all of the opportunities available to me and it’s great to know I’m helping people get superfast broadband.”

Skills Development Scotland (SDS), which is co-ordinating activities during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, welcomed BT’s recent announcement about new apprentice and graduate opportunities.

SDS Director of Digital Services, George Boag, said: “BT are a great example of an employer who see the business benefits of apprentices day-in and day-out.

“The investment they are making to their workforce and business infrastructure is encouraging for the communications industry in Scotland.

“If you are an employer looking to build a skilled, motivated workforce through apprenticeships, SDS can offer advice and support in person and via website www.apprenticeships.scot.”

BT employs around 7,400 people in Scotland, including in Openreach and EE. The company also supports around 12,600 jobs in Scotland through direct employment, spending with contractors, suppliers, and the spending of employees.

Information on apprentice roles, as well as job applications, can be found online at www.bt.com/apprentice