Openreach embraces VR to hire 195 trainee engineers

Openreach has announced a major expansion of its engineering workforce with plans to recruit 195 trainees in Scotland in its drive to improve customer service and invest in the operation of its network.

The local network business, which is part of BT Group, will be seeking recruits from across the Highlands and Islands to fill the new, full-time and permanent roles to extend its fibre broadband network, improve customer service and keep the north of Scotland connected.

Openreach expects to create around 40 new jobs in Aberdeen, Elgin, Buckie. Inverurie, Ellon, Fraserburgh and Peterhead.

In a ground-breaking approach to recruitment, potential candidates will be able to discover exactly what life as a field engineer involves, with the help of virtual reality (VR).

The company is trialling a VR experience which enables interested applicants to don a headset and experience climbing a telephone pole or exploring the local exchange building in immersive 3D, from the perspective of a real engineer.

Openreach chief executive, Clive Selley, said: “Improving customer service is our number one priority so we’re investing in our people to make sure we deliver.

“Our customers need us to install new lines and repair our network faster than ever, and by increasing the number of people working on proactive network maintenance, we can fix more issues before people even notice them.

“We are also continuing to roll out superfast broadband services at scale and making big investments in our network to make ultrafast broadband available to up to 12 million homes by the end of 2020. We want to recruit the very best people to help us on that journey and our new trainee engineering roles will offer people the hands on experience they need to succeed.”

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Kevin Brady, human resources director for Openreach, explained: “Everyone wonders what it might be like to work for a company when they apply for a job, but we’re giving people the ability to physically see it and experience it for themselves.

“We get people from all walks of life applying for roles at Openreach and an increasing number of women wanting to be engineers, which is fantastic. Becoming an engineer can be a very rewarding career choice, and of course some aspects of the job are both mentally and physically challenging. We know, for example, that climbing a pole for the first time can be daunting for new recruits, and that’s why we wanted to give people a real insight into what’s involved. Hopefully it will help them to make a more informed decision when they come to apply.”

Fraser Rowberry, general manager for Openreach in Scotland, said: “We know from past experience that Scotland is an excellent place to recruit skilled and motivated people, who make great engineers. Openreach is able to offer them a rewarding career in an exciting and fast moving industry. The trainee engineers will be playing a vital part in the future success and prosperity of our country. High-speed communications have never been more important for local households and businesses – and will become even more important in the years ahead.”