Openreach has unveiled a £485,000 investment in a national fibre training school for Scotland, aimed at educating the country’s next generation of digital engineers.
Trainees at the new centre will hone their skills in a replica street to recreate live networks. More than 2000 engineers from across Scotland will train at the unique school, located in Livingston, later this year.
The ‘Open Street’ is the company’s first outdoor centre of its kind in the UK.
The announcement comes amid a significant recruitment drive by Openreach. More than 4000 people have applied for 220 new trainee engineering roles in Scotland, the company said.
The firm is also embarking on its next stage of investment which will see the rollout of more reliable, faster full-fibre for homes and businesses across Scotland.
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Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, opened the new school in Livingston today. Hepburn welcomed the investment in Scotland’s future workforce.
“Investing in the skills of Scotland’s current and future workforce are priorities for the Scottish Government, recognising their positive contribution to our strategic focus on inclusive growth and improving productivity,” he said.
“In support of that we will continue to expand the number of apprenticeships available in Scotland, and in this Scottish Apprenticeship Week we fully welcome today’s Openreach announcement regarding their investment in Scotland and its workforce,” Hepburn added.
Openreach trainees attending the fibre training school will receive comprehensive training; from safely setting up work areas and splicing together hair-breadth fibres to installing or repairing lines.
A live fibre network will connect a replica local exchange to an office and two houses through pavements, ducts, poles and cabinets.
The experience, Openreach said, will be particularly realistic due to the trainees’ exposure to the elements and “factors specific to Scotland”, such as inaccessible telegraph poles located in back gardens.
During his visit, Hepburn also visited new fibre classrooms at the centre, which include duct pipes, fibre cables and walls replicating the inside and outside of customers’ houses.
Both Education Scotland and Skills Development Scotland have welcomed the announcement.
Kirsty McFaul, senior education officer for technologies at Education Scotland, said: “We welcome the new opportunities this training facility will offer some of our young people, which will allow them to build on their learning experiences and skills developed in school and get the qualifications they need to progress their career within STEM industry sectors.”
Eugene Gallanagh, senior director of Enabling Services at Skills Development Scotland, added: “Work-based learning is providing the skills needed for a successful Scotland. We want more people and businesses across Scotland to benefit from the growing number of opportunities available in different sectors and workplaces.”