Openreach is to create 4,000 new roles, including 3,000 new apprenticeships, as it continues to build out its full fibre network and hopes that at least a fifth of its new engineers will be female.
The BT-owned company plans to connect 25 million homes and businesses to ultrafast broadband by 2025 and has hired more than 8,000 apprentice engineers over the past two years to support these efforts.
It is the largest recruitment drive in Openreach’s history, and will also see 3,000 existing engineers retrained from working on copper infrastructure to fibre. However, the company says it wants its workforce to be more diverse, acknowledging that the industry has traditionally been dominated by white males.
Just 5% of all engineering hires in 2018/19 were female, with studies suggesting that hidden gender bias in job adverts was putting off potential applicants. Indeed, it is thought only 14% of all engineers in the UK are women.
Openreach has worked with linguistics experts to address the issue and has witnessed a 300% surge in applications from women, helping it to achieve its goal of at least 20% of its intake to be women last year.
In the short term it hopes to maintain this goal, ensure at least half of all external hires into management are women, and go even further in the future.
“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, said Openreach CEO Clive Selley.
“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.”
- If you want to make the jump early, here are our best fibre broadband deals
Are you a pro? Subscribe to our newsletter
Sign up to the TechRadar Pro newsletter to get all the top news, opinion, features and guidance your business needs to succeed!
Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.