Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 30 October 2014

‘It’s vital we have skilled engineers to improve our network’

Day 21: British Telecom is now backing our jobs campaign

Young BT apprentice Caolan Dolan is top of his class

Telecommunications giant BT has thrown its weight behind the Belfast Telegraph campaign to create 100 apprenticeships in 100 days as the company hunts for its next intake of new faces.

The company, which employs 2,000 people in Northern Ireland, has been running apprenticeship programmes for more than half a century.

And its latest bid to take on 13 budding engineers is still open.

During the 18 month ‘earn while you learn’ process — which starts in September — apprentices will learn how to install and repair communication products on copper and fibre networks, both underground and above.

Applicants are required to have five GCSEs at grade C or above, which must include maths, English, ICT and science.

They also need a full, clean driving licence and must have the ability to climb and work in confined spaces. And they must complete a BTEC National Award Qualification and a Level 2 National Vocational Qualification during the process.

BT’s human resources director Fiona Kinniburgh said: “It is vital that we have the skilled engineers we need to maintain and improve our network, which is delivering an increasingly sophisticated range of services that our customers have come to expect.

“Our new apprentices, alongside our existing teams, will have a pivotal role to play in achieving that goal, and in particular, the ongoing deployment of our ambitious fibre broadband roll-out programme across Northern Ireland.”

She said the well-established scheme was a major investment in developing a highly skilled workforce.

“We support the Belfast Telegraph campaign and would also encourage more employers to embrace and recognise the long term benefits that apprenticeship schemes can and do deliver,” she added.

Young BT apprentice Caolan Dolan was recently named most promising first year apprentice at the Department for Employment and Learning’s Apprentice of the Year awards.

It was the second year running that a BT apprentice won the title.

Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton has reminisced about his time as a BT apprentice in the 1980s, between the ages of 17 and 20.

He continued to work for the company for two decades, becoming director of BT Solutions and UK director of BT Health.

Mr Hamilton said: “I must say that those three years were a great experience and I look back on my career in BT very fondly.”

Potential applicants for the BT programme are invited to apply by registering online at www.bt4m.co.uk

Factfile

THE number of young adults out of work for over a year has increased almost nine-fold over the past decade, according to a new study. The TUC said the number of 18 to 24-year-olds out of work had soared by 874%, from 6,260 to 60,955 since 2000, going up by 264% in the last year alone. The study, ahead of new figures tomorrow, also showed that youth unemployment had risen by 78% over the same period.

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