Openreach builds back better with 341 new jobs in the South East alongside electric vehicle upgrade
- 2,500 new roles at Openreach and an estimated 2,800 with partners, supporting £12bn broadband project
- Commitment to upgrade the UK’s second largest commercial fleet to electric vehicles by 2030
- A record 40,000 homes per week are now being reached with Full Fibre
Openreach today bucked the prevailing economic trend by creating 5,300 new UK-based engineering jobs, including at least 341 in the South East, to be filled during 2021.
The new roles in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey and West Sussex will enable the company to continue improving service levels across its existing networks, whilst building and connecting customers to its new, ultrafast, ultra-reliable ‘Full Fibre’ broadband network at a record pace.
The expansion includes more than 2,500 full-time jobs in Openreach’s own service and network build divisions, as well as an estimated 2,800 positions in its UK supply chain, through partners such as Kelly Group, Kier, MJ Quinn and Telent*[i].
The UK’s largest digital infrastructure firm has separately made a commitment to upgrade all 27,000 Openreach vehicles[ii] - the second largest commercial fleet in the UK - to electric by 2030.
The announcement comes as the firm 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 - on the assumption we obtain the required critical enablers. Openreach engineers are now delivering faster, more reliable connectivity to another 40,000 homes and businesses every week, or the equivalent of a home every 15 seconds.
Full fibre build is already underway in dozens of locations across the South East, including Newbury, Gerrards Cross, Worthing, Basingstoke, Banbury, Cowes, Ramsgate, Epsom and Brighton.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) has found that a nationwide Full Fibre broadband network would boost UK productivity by £59 billion by 2025 - and updated modelling suggests it could enable nearly one million more people to access employment including over 300,000 carers, nearly 250,000 older workers and 400,000 parents. The economic benefit for the South East alone could be up to £8.7 billion.
The pandemic has accelerated changes in working patterns and, with full fibre, 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 across the country.
Openreach Regional Director, Laura Whelan, 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 people across the South East to build a career with Openreach and help us upgrade broadband connections and continue improving service levels throughout the region. We’re also investing in our supply chain, which will support the creation of thousands of jobs based all over the UK.
“We know the network we’re building can deliver a host of green benefits – from consuming less power to enabling more home working and fewer commuting trips - and we’re going to take that a step further, by committing to build and maintain that network using state of the art electric vehicles across our 27,000-strong fleet. We’ll have completely transitioned to EVs by 2030.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi 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."
More than 3.5 million premises can now order a gigabit capable Full Fibre broadband service from a range of competing service providers using Openreach’s new network, and the company is on track to reach its target of upgrading 20 million homes and businesses by the mid-to-late 2020s – assuming the right investment conditions exist.
Openreach already employs more than 34,500 people, including more than 25,000 engineers who build, maintain and connect customers to its nationwide broadband network. Of these, more than 4,800 live and/or work in the South East.
Over the last two years, Openreach has created more than 6,500 trainee engineering roles to support its build programme and to deliver improved customers service.
The new trainee apprenticeship roles will be filled during 2021 and come with a starting salary of £21,845 and recruits can be earning up to £28,353 following 12 months of specialist training to achieve an NVQ level 2, in one of Openreach’s world class training centres.
This year, Openreach placed 15th in The Sunday Times ’25 Best Big Companies To Work For’.
To find out more about becoming an Openreach engineer please visit our website at www.openreach.co.uk/te.
 5,300 jobs: Direct Labour; 2,552 plus 2,800 subcontractor roles - of which 1600 are in Service Delivery, 700 Chief Engineering, and 500 in Fibre Network & Delivery
[i] Full list of partners: Kellys Group, Instalcom, Kier, KN, MJ Quinn, Morrisons, Telent, John Henry Group and NMCN
[ii] Not including specialist vehicles and equipment (e.g. hoists/cherry-pickers, ditch witches etc.)
Openreach Limited is the UK’s digital network business.
We’re more than 35,000 people, working in every community to connect homes, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, mobile phone masts, broadcasters, governments and businesses – large and small – to the world.
Our mission is to build the best possible network, with the highest quality service, making sure that everyone in the UK can be connected.
We work on behalf of more than 665 communications providers like BT, SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and Zen, and our broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 31.8m premises.
Over the last decade we’ve invested more than £15 billion into our network and, at more than 190 million kilometres – it’s now long enough to wrap around the world 4,798 times.
Today we’re building an even faster, more reliable and future-proof broadband network which will be the UK’s digital platform for decades to come. We’re making progress towards our full fibre optic network target to reach 25 million premises by December 2026. Research shows a nationwide Full Fibre network could potentially provide a £59bn boost to UK productivity.
To help build the new fibre network and deliver better service across the country – we’ve created and filled more than 9,000 apprenticeship roles in the last two years and we’re recruiting another 1,000 trainee roles in Openreach in 2021. We’re also building greener – we operate the UK’s second largest commercial fleet and want to help lead the transition to electric vehicles, with a target to transition our fleet to being electric in 2030.
Openreach is a highly regulated, wholly owned, and independently governed unit of the BT Group. More than 90 per cent of our revenues come from services that are regulated by Ofcom and any company can access our products under equivalent prices, terms and conditions.
For the year ended 31 March 2021, we reported revenue of £5,244m.
For more information, visit www.openreach.co.uk