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BT turns to virtual reality for engineer recruitment

Mon 20 March 2017 15:07 | A A A

(ShareCast News) - Openreach, the BT subsidiary that owns and operates most of the UK's telephony and broadband infrastructure, announced a major expansion of its engineering workforce on Monday with plans to recruit 1,500 trainees.

The company said it was part of its drive to "improve customer service" and "invest in the operation of its network".

Over the next eight months, Openreach would be seeking recruits from across the UK to fill new, full-time and permanent roles focussed on extending its fibre broadband network.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley, claimed the Government's £1.7bn rollout programme had helped take superfast broadband to more than nine out of ten homes and businesses in the UK, reaching "thousands more" every week.

"Openreach engineers have played a pivotal role in helping deliver this, and these 1,500 new recruits will be a fantastic addition to our thriving digital economy."

In what its board called a "groundbreaking approach to recruitment", potential candidates would be able to discover exactly what life as a field engineer involved with the help of virtual reality.

The company said it 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 expected that an initial intake of 119 recruits would join the company in April, followed by around 60 new recruits joining each week through to mid-October.

New trainees would embark on a tailored 12-month accredited learning programme, including on-the-job experience and culminating with the attainment of an externally recognised qualification for IT, software and telecoms professionals.

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

"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."

Selley said Openreach was continuing to roll out superfast broadband services at scale, and claimed it was making big investments in its 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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