The need for faster broadband has been exacerbated due to the increasing demand on our communications networks and the roll out of full fibre is key to supporting increased home working, delivering sustainable growth and increasing productivity in Dorset.
The Government anticipates 85 per cent of premises in the UK to have fibre connectivity by 2025. The need for faster broadband has been exacerbated due to the increasing demand on our communications networks and the roll out of full fibre is key to supporting increased home working, delivering sustainable growth and increasing productivity in Dorset.
Much of the network is expected to be delivered commercially (by the network providers without subsidy). In addition, the government has launched Project Gigabit which will support the roll out to the hardest to reach areas, which will often be done by smaller operators and some parts of Dorset are eligible in the first phase.
There is widespread recognition in the industry among the alternative network providers, supported by organisations like the Independent Networks Cooperative Association, that there are insufficient trained engineers to build the network and that we need many more training opportunities for jobseekers to move into this industry. To encourage the rollout in Dorset, Dorset Council is looking at ways we can help address this at a local level.
There are already several Alternative Network Providers which are active in Dorset or have plans to expand. We are working with those and other key stakeholders to develop a pilot programme to support them in their rollout.
Who are we working with?
Central to the project are the local alternative network providers who will ultimately be the end employers. Their support will help shape the scheme and we’ve been working with these providers to get a sense of the skills and qualities required for an ideal newly qualified Fibre Engineer to be employed in the industry. While we are aware that many providers are running their own recruitment campaigns, we hope that a partnership project will help to speed up recruitment, reach new employment markets and create economies of scale.
We are working with Jobcentre Plus and the Ministry of Defence, both who might have potential candidates coming through different pathways. Working across different demographics opens the pool of potential candidates for employers and provides viable and exciting career pathways for candidates.
We’ve been working closely with training providers to create a bespoke training programme which fits the requirements of the employer whilst making it an attractive offer for a wide range of candidates.
What are the challenges?
While we are early on in our pilot, we can anticipate some key challenges to address:
- finding a sustainable funding model for the pilot and looking at potential future funding models for similar programmes
- engaging and building a partnership across the industry while being sensitive to competition amongst industry partners
- attracting candidates to the pilot who have the drive and skillset to undertake the training, increase understanding of the sector and the opportunities it presents
- adapting our pathway to as we navigate a fast paced and changing landscape
We’re continuing to work in partnership to address these challenges and build a pilot that can be replicated within the industry for different roles, and ultimately contribute to the Levelling Up agenda within Dorset.