Replica street at new training school for digital engineers

A fibre training school featuring a replica street has been unveiled by Openreach to train the next generation of digital engineers.

Openreach has invested £485,000 in the facility in Livingston, which will train more than 2,000 engineers from across Scotland this year.

Trainees will be able to hone their skills in a replica residential street outside the centre where a live fibre network connects a local exchange to an office, shop and houses through pavements, ducts, poles and cabinets.

There are also fibre classrooms, complete with duct pipes, fibre cables and walls replicating the inside and outside of customers’ houses.

Business Minister Jamie Hepburn opened the West Lothian facility on Tuesday during Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2019.

He said: “Investing in the skills of Scotland’s current and future workforce are priorities for the Scottish Government, recognising their positive contribution to our strategic focus on inclusive growth and improving productivity.

“In support of that we will continue to expand the number of apprenticeships available in Scotland, and in this Scottish Apprenticeship Week we fully welcome today’s Openreach announcement regarding their investment in Scotland and its workforce.”

The 18,700 square foot replica street is Openreach’s first outdoor Open Street in the UK.

Trainees attending the school will receive comprehensive instruction, from picking up a job and setting up their working area safely to splicing together hair-breadth fibres or installing or repairing a line.

Openreach said that in the last month, more than 4,000 people have applied for 220 new trainee engineering roles being created in Scotland as the digital network business prepares for a major rollout of full fibre broadband.

Brendan Dick, chairman of the Openreach board in Scotland, said: “Openreach is a long-term partner in Scotland’s success. Our network underpins the economy the length and breadth of the country, bringing a vital service to Scottish communities. With most people in Scotland able to connect to a superfast service today, we’re proud of our track record.

“We’re investing now for the future so that we have the local, skilled and experienced workforce needed to deliver a full fibre future for Scotland and keep communities connected, with better service, broader coverage and faster broadband speeds for all.

“Our training schools will help us to meet new training demands in a revolutionary, immersive environment and, this month, the learning days we deliver annually in Scotland will top 16,300 – the highest in the history of our business.”

Openreach will also use the centre to help educate policymakers about the technical side of building a full fibre network and is working with further education establishments like West Lothian College to open its doors to engineering students.

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