Openreach, the subsidiary of BT which manages the majority of the UK’s telecoms infrastructure, has today announced plans to recruit 1,500 new engineers using VR to provide training.


Virtual reality is becoming increasingly viewed as useful for training within the workplace, but it’s yet to be used on a large scale for recruitment. Openreach is exploring VR’s potential benefits for recruitment with an experience which allows interested applicants to use a headset to virtually climb a telephone pole or view an exchange in 3D.

“Becoming an engineer can be a very rewarding career choice, and of course some aspects of the job are both mentally and physically challenging,” explains Kevin Brady, HR director for Openreach. “We know for example that climbing a pole for the first time can be daunting for new recruits, and that’s why we wanted to give people a real insight into what’s involved. Hopefully, it will help them to make a more informed decision when they come to apply.”

Around 119 recruits will join Openreach in April, followed by approximately 60 per week until mid-October. All of the new trainees will undertake a 12-month training programme which, if successful, will result in a qualification for IT, Software and Telecoms professionals.

“The Government’s £1.7 bn rollout programme has helped take superfast broadband to more than nine out of ten homes and businesses in the UK and we are reaching thousands more every week,” comments Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley. “Openreach engineers have played a pivotal role in helping deliver this, and these 1,500 new recruits will be a fantastic addition to our thriving digital economy.”

Openreach hopes this VR push will also help to drive more interest from potential female engineers to diversify the workforce. The company recently joined a related scheme – Step into STEM – which is designed to encourage girls leaving education to pursue careers in typically male-dominated Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) areas.

You can view the 360-degree VR videos on the Openreach YouTube channel here. Current videos include an engineer’s view from up a telephone pole, a tour of a telephone exchange, and a look inside a roadside cabinet.

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