Apprentices help Lancashire get Superfast

Lancashire-based apprentices at the forefront of the Superfast Lancashire roll-out of fibre broadband have been giving the county council leader an insight into their work and its challenges.

David Sinnett  Emma Naughton Ben Jarvis Martin Cookson Cllr Mein Adam Shepherd Kevin MillerThe visits came as Superfast Lancashire announced alomost 115,000 households and businesses can now access the high-speed fibre broadband network as a result of the project.

Superfast Lancashire - the partnership between Lancashire County Council and BT - will make high-speed fibre broadband available to 97 per cent of premises in the county by the end of the year.

Martin Cookson, Adam Shepherd, Ben Jarvis - all from Preston - Emma Naughton from Bamber Bridge, Callum Mulholland from Morecambe and Yasemin Sunbul and Yasir Patel, both from Blackburn, and Robert Gregory, from Rossendale, joined Openreach – BT’s local network company - as part of a recruitment drive that has seen more than 140 young people taken on in the North West over the past 36 months.

Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council said they were crucial to the success of the high-speed roll-out of fibre broadband.

She said: “We’re committed to providing opportunities for young people, with more than 400 apprentices in our workforce at any one time, so it was great to be able to chat to some of the apprentices involved in rolling out superfast broadband in Lancashire.

“They were full of enthusiasm for their roles which are enabling them to gain the skills and experience they need to build careers in a growing sector, while helping to bring the benefits of superfast broadband to Lancashire’s homes and businesses.”

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.”

While learning on the job, the apprentices are working towards a recognised qualification, a BTEC NVQ Level 3 in ICT (Information and Communications Technology).

The latest communities to go live include: Halton, Kirkham, Pleasington, Ribchester and Whalley.

Because the network is being installed by Openreach it is ‘open’, giving local residents and businesses a wide choice ofbroadband service providers. There are more than 140 fibre broadband providers currently operating in the UK, thereby ensuring competitive products and prices. Anyone choosing to upgrade will be able to get download speeds up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mpbs. 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 Council.