Openreach creates 140 new North East jobs

Openreach’s first North East training centre officially opened by Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries

    Openreach today announced it will create and fill around 140 more North East jobs during 2022 – including around 70 apprenticeships – as it continues to invest billions of pounds into its UK broadband network, people and training.

The new recruits will be based across the region in locations such as Northumberland, County Durham and Tyne and Wear, working to build and connect customers to the company’s ultrafast, ultra-reliable Full Fibre broadband network. The mammoth build is on track to reach 25 million UK homes and businesses by December 2026 including hundreds of thousands in the North East. The hiring spree - 4,000 new jobs are being created across the UK - is part of the largest recruitment drive in Openreach’s history and will also help deliver further improvements in customer satisfaction, which is at a record high[1].

To celebrate the news Nadine Dorries, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, declared Openreach’s first North East training school officially open and spent time meeting some of the newest recruits. She said: “We are on a mission to level up the UK with better broadband and are investing a record £5 billion so hard-to-reach areas are not left behind. 

"I was thrilled to visit Openreach's new training centre at Thornaby where I met some inspiring young apprentices who will be at the heart of delivering our infrastructure revolution. It was great to see such a diverse group and I wish them all the best with their future careers.”

Around £1.2 million was invested to redesign and refurbish the training centre which is situated on Teesside Industrial Estate in Thornaby. The centre now boasts 11 classrooms, 64 telegraph poles across four pole fields, virtual reality training, a fully live fibre and copper network and a state-of-the-art replica street, built from scratch to recreate the real network in the outside world. Nicknamed ‘Open Street’, it enables engineers to experience a typical working day - from laying cables to building joints and making repairs, working underground or overhead and installing new services inside customers’ homes. Thousands of new and existing Openreach engineers will be trained at the centre every year.  

Openreach already employs the UK’s largest team of telecoms engineers and professionals, and has committed to building a more diverse and inclusive team in an industry that’s traditionally been very white, male dominated. Last year, the company attracted 600 women into trainee engineering roles – more than double the previous year. The boost was thanks partly to employing language experts to transform its job adverts and descriptions, making them gender neutral.

Clive Selley, CEO, Openreach, said: “Openreach is a people business first and foremost, so I’m proud that we’re continuing to invest heavily in our people, having hired and trained more than 8,000 new engineers over the last two years. We’re rightly recognised as one of the best big companies to work for in the UK, and we’re determined to stay that way, so we’ve been building state of the art training schools all over the country where we can teach people the skills and techniques they need for long, exciting and rewarding careers in engineering.

“We want to reflect the communities we serve and give opportunities to people from all backgrounds, so I’m encouraged that we’ve recruited more women and minority groups this year compared to last year, but we’ve got much more to do in an industry that hasn’t been very diverse historically.

“These new recruits will play a crucial role as we continue to improve services for our customers and build the biggest and best broadband network in the UK, covering millions of rural and urban homes.”

The new roles offer a very competitive starting salary[2] and long-term career prospects, but candidates don’t need any formal qualifications to apply. All you need is a driving license, a strong work ethic, great customer service skills and an enthusiasm to work outdoors – Openreach will give you all the equipment and training you need to do the rest. Click here for a full list of employee benefits.

Alongside its recruitment drive, Openreach has committed to represent ONS measured levels of ethnic diversity3 across the UK and is aiming for at least 20 percent of its trainee engineer recruits to be women this year, with 50 percent of its external hires into management also to be women by 2025. You can read more about the company’s commitments to Diversity and Inclusion here.

Georgia Currah is 27 and lives in Alnwick. Before joining Openreach Georgia worked in a local restaurant but felt ready for a new challenge. She said: “I kept hearing really good things about working for Openreach so did some research and decided to apply. I’m only in week three of training but already loving that every day is different. One day you can be in a customer’s house fitting broadband and the next at the top of a telegraph pole.

“I’m currently learning the ropes at the new training centre in Thornaby which is brilliant as I’m working on a live network exactly as I would be out in the field. There’s a lot to take it but the combination of hands on and classroom-based learning makes it easy to take everything in.”

Abbie Thompson who’s 24 and lives in Seaham worked in corporate banking joined Openreach last month after deciding life trapped behind a desk was no longer for her. She said: “My mam has worked for Openreach for more than 15 years and I’ve always been interested in what she does. It always sounded like a great company to work for and after working behind a desk for five years I decided it was time to try something completely different.

“Working outside and having a hands-on job really appealed to me and I love that I’m making a real difference to people’s lives by helping to build a full network and improve broadband speeds. I’d encourage any woman looking to change their career direction to consider Openreach – it might be a step outside their comfort zone but engineering definitely isn't just for men.”

Openreach also plans to retrain more than 3,000 of its existing engineers during the next year – changing their focus from fixing older, copper-based technologies to installing and maintaining faster, more reliable fibre connections.

More than 1,100 Openreach people already live and work across the North East. Openreach’s full fibre broadband rollout has already reached more than 136,000 local homes and businesses. Just last month (January), a further 50,000 were added to the build programme. 



[1] Openreach is on track to deliver all 30 Ofcom-mandated quality of service standards, having delivered a best ever Q3 for ‘on time repair’ and ‘on time provision’ measures. 91% of customers surveyed score Openreach 8 or more out of 10 for customer satisfaction.

[2] The new trainee apprenticeship roles 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.

[3] Openreach has set ethnic minority representation targets for all management, talent entry and team member recruitment in both desk and field roles on a regional basis, so we reflect the local population (data defined by the ONS). As a minimum we will match regional ethnic minority representation in all our recruitment and share these outcomes on a regular basis.