Belfast Telegraph

50 Jobs in 50 Days: BT joins the Belfast Telegraph's apprentice drive

Telecommunications giant recruits 10 new starts after prince's launch

Apprentice James Tohall with head of field engineering Mairead Meyer on the first day of the BT apprenticeship programme at the company's training centre in Antrim
Apprentice James Tohall with head of field engineering Mairead Meyer on the first day of the BT apprenticeship programme at the company's training centre in Antrim
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Telecommunications giant BT has come forward and pledged its support to our apprenticeships campaign, 50 Jobs in 50 Days.

The drive got off to a regal start when the Duke of York came by to lend his support and launch the campaign this week – and now companies themselves are getting involved.

A body which represents students in third level and further education colleges, where many apprentices complete their training, has described the campaign as "extremely positive".

BT has now taken on 10 new engineering apprentices, with its recruits taking part in a two-year programme organised by Engineering Training Services in Belfast.

They will be working in roles across Northern Ireland and spending time in training centres in Antrim and Omagh.

Alex Crossan, networks director at BT, said: "This latest recruitment is great news for Northern Ireland.

"It is another example of BT's commitment as one of the region's largest private-sector employers and investors."

He said the scheme gave the opportunity to recruits to build "lasting and rewarding careers" and would play a vital role in the future success of Northern Ireland.

Ultimately, they will qualify as multi-trained customer service engineers with the installation and maintenance of next generation super-fast broadband top of their to-do list.

Mairead Meyer, the head of field engineering for BT in Ireland, said on-the-job training had been crucial to getting her to where she is now, as one of the most senior women in BT in Ireland at the age of just 33.

Her Masters degree in engineering at Queen's University was sponsored by cigarette company Gallaher's in Ballymena (now JTI).

Ms Meyer said: "During my first year with Gallaher's I trained alongside the Gallaher's apprentices in the factory environment but also in the technical training school in Ballymena.

"It was this time that made me aware of the importance of having an apprentice programme in an organisation.

"The value of practical, hands-on training which instils a real pride in engineering and a work ethic that remains with you throughout your career."

Meanwhile, Rebecca Hall, the president of students' union NUS-USI, said: "It is vital that more apprenticeship opportunities can be created to help as many people as possible gain high-level skills and reach their potential.

"NUS-USI has done significant work to try to deliver more apprenticeship places.

"I commend the Belfast Telegraph for their campaign and I would strong encourage companies to get involved and create more apprenticeships to help drive our economy forward."


The Duke of York visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Tuesday to unveil a plaque marking the launch of our campaign, 50 Jobs in 50 Days. Prince Andrew, a champion of apprenticeships as a model for improving the economy and the chances of young people, said at the launch: "I wish your campaign every success." The Prince also said young people did not want to avoid work, but just wanted a job.

If you are an employer who wants to take on an apprentice as part of our campaign, please let us know by telephoning Margaret Canning on 028 9026 4443 or emailing

Further reading

50 Jobs in 50 Days: Future is with the apprentice

50 Jobs in 50 Days: Six easy ways an employer can find an apprentice

50 Jobs in 50 Days: Royal backing for Belfast Telegraph's bid to help young jobhunters 

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