The £400,000 Livingston school is one of 12 around the UK, and the only one in Scotland, and was initially announced in March 2018. Over 4,000 people applied for 400 spots on the first intake of trainees, and Openreach hopes to train over 1,700 in the next couple of years.
Openreach said that around 40 of the trainees will be hired to work directly on the roll-out of full-fibre broadband around Edinburgh, where it has already started work in the Corstorphine and Newington areas of the city. Note that a CityFibre-backed full-fibre network also exists in the Scottish capital.
Keith Brown, Scottish government cabinet secretary for the economy, jobs and fair work, said: “Educating the next generation of digital engineers is absolutely vital to ensuring we meet our digital ambitions. I therefore welcome this investment from Openreach in their fibre training school, which will underpin the roll-out of high-speed broadband to communities across Scotland.”
On a tour of the new facility, Brown was shown one of four new fibre “classrooms” at the training centre, which provides a setting for trainee engineers to practice their trade, including duct pipes, cables and walls replicating the inside and outside of customers’ homes.
Over the next 12 months Openreach will replicate a residential street outside the centre to help trainees develop their skills further.
Here, a live fibre network will connect a local exchange to both commercial and residential “properties” through pavements, ducts, poles and cabinets, enabling trainees to practice cabling, jointing and repairs, working underground or overhead, and installing new services in a real-world environment, all the while exposed to the Scottish weather.
Openreach CEO Clive Selley said: “When it comes to delivering world-class digital infrastructure, Openreach people in Scotland have unrivalled experience, expertise and capability – and we want that to continue.
“Our new engineers are helping us provide better service, broader coverage and faster broadband speeds throughout the country, and this new training school will make sure they have the skills they need to get the job done.
“We’re confident that our investment in people and networks across Scotland have a big role to play in the country’s future economic success.”
The indoor and outdoor simulations are designed to include everything an engineer would encounter during a typical working day – from cabling to jointing and repairs, working underground or overhead, up telephone poles and installing new services inside customers’ homes.
Qualified applicants who spend 12 months with Openreach will receive a Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level Diploma for IT and Telecommunications Professionals.