Communications company Openreach has announced it is creating more than 5,000 new engineering jobs next year, as the company seeks to speed up broadband upgrades.
The recruitment drive includes 2,500 full-time jobs in Openreach’s service and network build divisions, and an estimated 2,800 positions in its UK supply chain.
The news was welcomed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden as a major boost for UK employment during the pandemic.
Openreach said recruiting will enable it to continue building and connecting customers to its new “ultrafast, ultra-reliable” full fibre broadband network “at a record pace”.
It comes as the company announced it has hit a record build rate for its Full Fibre broadband programme, which aims to reach 20 million homes and businesses by the mid-to-late 2020s.
Engineers are now delivering upgraded broadband to around one home every 15 seconds.
The pandemic has accelerated changes in working patterns, with more people working from home and time spent online at record levels.
It’s thought that with upgraded broadband, nearly two million more people than previously estimated could also choose to work from home in the long term, reducing transport and housing pressures in big cities and boosting local and rural economies.
The firm, which already employs more than 34,500 people, also announced a commitment to upgrade its 27,000 Openreach vehicles – the second largest commercial fleet in the UK – to electric by 2030.
Openreach chief executive Clive Selley said: “As a major employer and infrastructure builder, we believe Openreach can play a leading role in helping the UK to build back better and greener.
“Our Full Fibre network build is going faster than ever and we’re now looking for thousands more people to build a career with Openreach and help us upgrade broadband connections and continue improving service levels.”
Mr Sunak said: “Throughout this crisis I’ve been clear that our number one economic priority is to protect jobs, so I’m delighted to welcome this announcement of 5,000 new skilled roles.
“We’re investing billions of pounds across the UK as part of our Plan for Jobs to ensure nobody is left without hope or opportunity.”
Mr Dowden said: “I welcome this tremendous investment by Openreach. It will help us build back better from the pandemic and create thousands of new, high skilled jobs delivering faster broadband to people across the UK.”
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