Superfast start to National Apprentices Week

National Apprenticeship Week (3-7 March) got off to a superfast start today as Deputy Minister for Technology and Skills, Ken Skates, visited BT’s training centre in Cross Hands. 

He met there with some of the 94 apprentices who are already working with BT to help deliver fast fibre broadband services across the whole of Wales. Superfast Cymru, the largest partnership of its kind in the UK, is working towards helping Welsh Government achieve its target of extending access to fast fibre broadband to 96 per cent of premises in Wales by spring 2016. 
Speaking at the event, the Deputy Minister emphasised the important contribution apprentices can make. 

He said: “In this difficult financial climate it is vitally important that we as a Government ensure there are opportunities for young people to make a practical contribution to the Welsh workforce. I’d like to stress however that there are significant advantages to businesses in taking on apprentices as they bring in new skillsets and new ways of working. 

“What we see here today is an excellent example of how a company such as BT has recognised the potential of these apprentices and given them the opportunity to contribute to the delivery of one of the most exciting and innovative technological developments we have ever seen in Wales.” 

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. Now in its seventh year, National Apprenticeship Week is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals and businesses. 

This view is supported by Ann Beynon, BT director for Wales, who said: “BT made a commitment as part of Superfast Cymru to take on 100 apprentices and create 50 new engineering posts and we have already recruited 94 apprentices and 100 full time engineers who are working hard to roll-out high speed fibre broadband right across Wales. 

“Our apprentices are getting the opportunity to gain valuable experience in a sector that is continuously developing. We appreciate also that the apprentices make an important contribution to our work as they bring new skills, new experiences and new ideas. As an employer we would encourage any other businesses to consider taking on apprentices as they bring with them a thirst for knowledge and bags of enthusiasm.” 

One apprentice who has benefitted from the programme is 20-year-old Sam Jenkins from Birchgrove, Swansea. He said: “I feel I have been very fortunate to get this opportunity as it allows me to work on a project that is continually developing and doesn’t stand still. Because of the various aspects of the job I get to work in different locations and am always meeting new people. This in turn has developed my personal self confidence and I really hope I can stay within the company for years to come.” 

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, a range of events and activities will be held across Wales throughout the week. To find out about a local event near you, visit:http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/skillsandtraining/apprenticeships/apprenticeshipweek2013/?lang=en 

Fast fibre broadband access is offered to all service providers on an open, wholesale basis, underpinning a competitive market. Further details of the programme, including areas in Wales that are part of the roll-out, are available on the Superfast Cymru website www.superfast-cymru.com. 

This announcement builds on the news last week that BT will be creating more than 1,000 new apprenticeship and graduate jobs, including around 50 in Wales, in a major boost for UK youngsters. The majority of the new roles will be in the areas of IT, technology research and engineering, with other training programmes available in business and finance. 


Enquiries about this news release should be made to James Walsh-Heron at the Welsh Government press office on 029 20898564 
or the BT Wales Press Office on 0800 085 0660. All BT news releases can be accessed at: http://www.btplc.com/News. 

The latest images of the Superfast Cymru roll-out are available for download at: http://imagelibrary.btplc.com/assetbank-btplc/action/browseItems?categoryId=597&categoryTypeId=1 

About BT 
BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach. 
For the year ended 31 March 2013, BT Group’s reported revenue was £18,103m with reported profit before taxation of £2,315m. 
British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York. For more information, visit www.btplc.com 

About the Welsh Government and Superfast Cymru 
The Welsh Government is the devolved Government for Wales. We are working to help improve the lives of people in Wales and make our nation a better place in which to live and work. 
The Welsh Government and BT are working in partnership on the 'Superfast Cymru' programme to develop a nationwide superfast broadband infrastructure. 
Superfast Cymru will boost commercial roll-out and help the Welsh Government achieve its target to deliver high speed fibre broadband to 96% of homes and businesses in Wales by 2016. 
Superfast Cymru is set to transform the broadband landscape in Wales and to promote economic growth and sustainable jobs in Wales. We have estimated that up to 2,500 further full times jobs could be created throughout the Welsh economy over time. It will ensure we are at the forefront of the global digital economy and help to champion Wales as a great place to live, work, invest and visit. 
About Superfast Britain 
Superfast Britain is a UK Government programme of investment 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 is comprised of three elements 
• £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