Openreach and IntoUniversity Partner to Inspire Young Minds with Full Fibre Workshops

Openreach has teamed up with education charity IntoUniversity to provide young people facing disadvantages a glimpse into the world of work, particularly in the telecoms sector. This collaboration marks IntoUniversity’s first venture into telecoms, offering Openreach engineers the chance to share their expertise and experiences, inspiring the next generation to pursue careers in STEM fields.

The partnership aims to uplift young people by teaching them new skills and boosting their confidence through various programmes and workshops held at IntoUniversity’s 43 centres across England and Scotland. These initiatives focus on enhancing transferable skills and building a foundation for future career success.

The need for such programmes is evident. Research shows that 29% of children in the UK grow up in poverty (Joseph Rowntree Foundation). By the end of secondary school, disadvantaged pupils lag behind their peers by over 18.8 months, a gap that has widened since 2019 (Education Policy Institute). Furthermore, students from less advantaged backgrounds are significantly less likely to attend university or selective institutions (UCAS End of Cycle Report, 2021).

Last year, Openreach piloted successful trials in South London and Bradford, where over 15 volunteers from both engineering and desk-based teams engaged with young people. These sessions included hands-on activities such as fibre splicing and interactive demos, making the workshops engaging and educational.

So far this year, Openreach volunteers have participated in several events, including a ‘Business in FOCUS’ workshop in Peterborough and a similar event in Leeds. These one-day events featured Dragon’s Den-style exercises that helped students develop teamwork, communication, and leadership skills. Additionally, ‘Careers in FOCUS’ workshops in Leeds and Liverpool allowed students to hear directly from Openreach engineers about their educational paths and career journeys.

Looking ahead, Openreach plans to host a ‘Careers in FOCUS’ event at one of its training schools. Students will hear from volunteers, tour the facilities, receive communication skills training, and earn recognition for completing the IntoUniversity programme. More events are planned across the country, including in Leeds and Southampton.

Openreach employees are encouraged to volunteer through the company’s #ConnectForGood initiative, which offers three days of company time per year for such activities. Previous volunteering efforts have included beach clean-ups, litter picks, and charity chess tournaments.

Belinda Bagge, General Counsel and Diversity & Inclusion Lead at Openreach, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership: “We’re excited to be working with IntoUniversity to help young people learn more about the world of work, specifically in a STEM career. Young people facing disadvantage are full of potential, but circumstances mean they are underrepresented across many sectors, including telecoms. This partnership has the potential to open up a world of possibilities to these young people, to let them know the variety of options that a career in telecoms, and at Openreach specifically, can offer them, and to provide them with practical guidance on how to reach their goals.”

Dr. Rachel Carr OBE, Co-founder and Chief Executive of IntoUniversity, shared her excitement: “We’re really delighted to be launching this new partnership with Openreach. Working in collaboration, we’ve already been able to deliver some amazing workshops for young people, opening their eyes to a different industry and the variety of potential career opportunities that it offers. Not only are Openreach providing us with much-needed funding, these workshops, delivered by Openreach volunteers, are a core part of our programme which help our students build their knowledge and understanding of the array of options out there for them and start to see themselves in jobs they might never have even heard of! We thank Openreach for their support and look forward to working with them throughout the partnership.”

This partnership between Openreach and IntoUniversity is set to make a significant impact by providing young people with the skills, knowledge, and inspiration they need to pursue careers in the full fibre and telecoms industry.

Emily Turner

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