Openreach opens doors to Bolton training centre

Toby Perkins MP for Chesterfield and Staveley and the Shadow Minister for Skills and Further Education explores the £1.7m facility

Toby Perkins, MP has visited Openreach’s Bolton training centre to witness first-hand how engineers are being trained to provide the North West and beyond with faster, more reliable full fibre broadband.

Openreach has invested around £1.7 million into the centre which now boasts 14 classrooms, 86 telegraph poles and a state-of-the-art replica street nicknamed ‘Open Street’ – built from scratch to recreate the company’s network in the outside world.

Opened in 2019 by Angela Rayner MP for Ashton-under-Lyne and Deputy Leader of the Labour party, the centre enables engineers to experience a typical working day - from installing cables to building joints and making repairs, working underground or climbing telephone poles and installing new services inside customers’ homes and businesses. It has become a key regional hub supporting the education of thousands of new and existing engineers from across the North West and beyond.  

 Toby Perkins MP, said: “It is wonderful to see first-hand the facilities and opportunities on offer at the Bolton Openreach Training Centre, as well as finding out about their work to improve broadband reliability and speed. As we witnessed during the pandemic, access to broadband is a real lifeline for so many people across our communities.

“Given that there has been a decline in the number of young people who are able to access apprenticeships nationally, apprenticeships and training opportunities like those on offer here at Openreach are incredibly welcome and I’d like to see more of them. The Labour Party view apprenticeships as the gold standard for training and skills policy and we would create 20,865 new apprenticeships across the North West, with 530 directly here in the Bolton North East constituency.”

Kevin Brady, Openreach’s Director of HR, said: “It was great to be able to showcase this fantastic facility, which demonstrates our commitment to investing in our people.

“We’re investing in a local, skilled and experienced workforce that will support our customers and our full fibre build across the North West, and this year alone we’ll create 540 new jobs throughout the region, including more than 400 apprenticeships.”

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.

Kevin added: “We already employ one of the UK’s largest team of telecoms engineers and professionals, but we’re absolutely committed to building a more diverse and inclusive team in an industry that’s traditionally been very white, male dominated. Last year, we attracted 600 women into trainee engineering roles – more than double the previous year – but we know there’s a lot more to do.

" Recruitment in the North West is going well this year and although it’s early days we’re seeing strong application numbers from both women and people from minority groups. We want to reflect the communities we serve and give opportunities to people from all backgrounds, so I’d encourage anyone looking for a new opportunity or career change to check us out and consider a career in Openreach.”

Openreach employs more than 3.950 people across the North West and in February announced plans to recruit a create and fill a further 540 jobs – including more than 400 apprenticeships.

 You can find out more about our Fibre First programme, latest availability and local plans here.