BT has pledged to create 5,300 new jobs, to speed up the development of ultra-fast broadband networks across the whole of the UK.

The UK government has put pressure on network providers to equip all corners of the country with ultra-fast broadband as quickly as possible – driven in no small part by the increased reliance on connectivity as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some two million more people than previously thought are expected to work from home in the longer term. This doesn’t just impact the number of people needing these networks but also the areas in which to focus – as these individuals are more likely to be in rural areas as the remote working trend shifts people away from larger towns and cities.

It’s little wonder this is a huge priority for the government, with figures from CEBR (the Centre for Economics and Business Research) claiming that full-fibre broadband provision across the whole of the UK could boost productivity by £59 billion by 2025.

In response, BT’s Openreach division pledged to connect 20 million homes and businesses by the end of the decade. To do this, it will create and fill 2,500 engineering jobs – which is expected to prompt its construction partners (among them Kelly Group, Kier, Telent and John Henry Group) to take on 2,800 more workers of their own.

Openreach chief executive, Clive Selley, told the Financial Times: “Our full-fibre network build is going faster than ever and we’re now looking for thousands more people to build a career with Openreach and help us upgrade broadband connections and continue improving service levels.”

Anyone interested in these roles may not need the engineering skills they may originally expect. BT said its recent recruits have included ex-servicemen and women, shop workers, and even a vet.

This recruitment comes amid the knowledge that the task facing BT is a sizeable one. Openreach is already providing full-fibre broadband to 40,000 homes and businesses every week. However, to just stay on target it will need to up its weekly total to 50,000 by the end of 2021.