|PICTURES 1/ Meet the class of 2014 - group photo of apprentices in pole training forest wearing hard hats and high viz jackets; 2/ Getting to know the network: training manager Geoff Thompson, from Preston, gives the new recruits their first glimpse of an underground cable chamber. 3/ pic of Josh McNeil, from Chorley; 4/ Following in their fathers’ footsteps are Joe Fenerty, Jess Duckworth and Adam Shepherd. 5/ Flying the flag for female apprentices are Jess Duckworth and Yasemin Sunbul.
LANCASHIRE APPRENTICES GET UP TO SPEED TO BOOST
FIBRE BROADBAND ROLL-OUT
Young recruits at forefront of Lancashire’s
superfast fibre broadband future;
Chorley youngster is among new apprentices looking forward to
‘learning and earning’
Meet the class of 2014 who are helping to rollout high-speed broadband across Lancashire….
These 10 young people are among the latest apprentices to join Openreach, the BT
Group business which builds and maintains the local network for all providers of telephone
and broadband services.
This particular group has a very special remit. They have been recruited specifically
to work on the Superfast Lancashire partnership between BT and Lancashire County
Council that will bring high-speed fibre broadband to 97 per cent of the county by the end of
The eight young men and two young women - who hail from across the county
– were all attracted by the idea of ‘learning and earning’ on the job, whilst working towards a
recognised qualification – a BTECH NVQ Level 3 in ICT (information and communications
Among them is Josh McNeil, aged 20, from Chorley.
As well as undergoing formal training to learn how to design and plan the new fibre
network, over the next few months they’ll be buddying up with engineers – including teams
who install the underground network and telephone poles - and other BT colleagues from
around the company.
This group of apprentices has something else in common. Perhaps not surprisingly
they’re all avid internet users and are therefore extremely excited about joining the team
that’s helping to bring high-speed fibre broadband to nearly every corner of Lancashire.
Several of the apprentices are already enjoying faster fibre broadband at home.
Josh said: “I’ve been using fibre for about eight months now. Right from the start the
difference was incredible. I used to only get around two megabits per second, but then
speeds got 40 times faster.
“I use it for all sorts of things – from online gaming and streaming, to downloading
At 16, Yasemin Sunbul, from Blackburn, is the youngest recruit. She joined
Openreach after completing her GCSEs. It was her interest in engineering that first attracted
her to the apprenticeship – an interest which is eclipsed only by her passion for iceskating,
in which she hopes to one day represent her country at an international level.
She added: “The internet’s great for all sorts of social media, as well as for doing
online shopping and getting news updates.”
‘Keeping it in the family’ are Joe Fenerty and Adam Shepherd, both from Preston,
and Jess Duckworth, from Burnley.
Joe, aged 19, is the third generation of his family to join BT Group, following in the
footsteps of dad, Alan - who works as a fibre broadband engineer - his now retired
grandfather, Joe Caton – as well as his uncles, Adrian Johal and Lee Caton.
He said: “I know it will be totally different from anything I’ve done before, but the work
really interests me – and obviously came highly recommended!
“I’ve had fibre broadband at home for about six months now and the difference is
amazing. I could hardly do anything online before, but now it’s great for interactive online
gaming, as well as things like Twitter and Facebook, and watching things like BT Sport.”
Jess, aged 18, follows in the footsteps of her father, Kelsey, who is a planning
manager for Openreach, said: “It will be great to earn money while I’m learning. I’m really
looking forward to learning more about the business, and achieving set goals and challenges
along the way.
“I use fibre broadband at home, so I know how important it is.”
Meanwhile, Adam, from Preston, also follows in the footsteps of his father, David
Adam, whose hobbies include playing football and online gaming, said: “I’ve been
using fibre at home for about six months now. I use it for things like social media and
interactive gaming on my X-box, as well as for watching BT Sport.”
Councillor Sean Serridge, Lancashire County Council’s champion for digital inclusion,
said: “It’s great to see these first 10 apprentices, specifically recruited to work on the
Superfast Lancashire project, now in post.
“One of the key aims of the project has always been to boost local businesses and
create jobs, so I’m really pleased see these young people, who come from across
Lancashire, both contributing to the project and benefitting so directly from it.”
Steve Edwards, BT director for Next Generation Access for the north of the UK, said:
“These young people are at the forefront of the fibre revolution that will drive future economic
growth across Lancashire whilst at the same time changing for the better the way people
communicate, learn, do business and enjoy their spare time.”
Superfast Lancashire is a partnership between Lancashire County Council and BT,
with additional funding from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK, as well as the
European Regional Development Fund, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Blackpool
The rapid progress of the Superfast Lancashire project means that more than 350,000 Lancashire homes and businesses - 52 per cent of all premises in the county –
can now get access to high-speed fibre broadband, when BT’s commercial roll-out of fibre broadband is also taken into account.
Engineers have also begun planning and building the next phase of the Superfast Lancashire project – providing a further 21,500 homes and businesses with access to high-speed broadband by the end of March. Once this phase of the rollout is complete, this will take the total number of premises able to access faster broadband as a direct result of the project to more than 39,000, with tens of thousands more premises to follow over the coming year under subsequent phases of the roll out.
In addition to the roll-out of high-speed broadband across the county, a Business
Support Centre has opened as part of Superfast Lancashire and is run by a team of
specialists to advise small and medium-sized businesses across the county how to use the
new technology to enhance their business.
More information is available from: www.superfastlancashire.com
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