Become an engineer – virtually
by Mike Scialom
Virtual Reality (VR) headsets are being used to help trainee engineers find out what life as a field engineer involves.
Openreach, the local network business which is part of BT, plans to take on 120 trainees in the East of England to improve customer service and develop the operation of its network.
In a ground-breaking approach to recruitment, potential candidates will be able to discover exactly what life as a field engineer involves, with the help of a VR experience. Interested applicants will don a headset and experience climbing a telephone pole or exploring the local exchange building in immersive 3D from the perspective of a real engineer.
The 360 degree videos are available to watch on Openreach’s YouTube channel: videos include an engineer’s eye view from the top of a telephone pole, a virtual tour of a telephone exchange and a look inside a green roadside cabinet. The business also intends to trial them in-person with potential applicants at recruitment roadshows and events throughout the year.
The VR option offers a novel way to give people eyes-on (rather than hands-on) experience of the workplace, and is part of a national recruitment of 1,500 trainees.
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley, said: “The Government’s £1.7 billion 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. 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 chief executive Clive Selley said: “We are continuing to roll out superfast broadband services at scale and making big investments in our network to make ultrafast broadband available to up to 12 million homes by the end of 2020. We want to recruit the very best people to help us on that journey and our new trainee engineering roles will offer people the hands-on experience they need to succeed.”
Kevin Brady, human resources director for Openreach, said of the VR option: “Hopefully it will help them to make a more informed decision when they come to apply.”
Openreach is keen to further increase diversity in the workforce, including the recruitment of more female engineers. It recently joined forces with other technology firms to create a new mentoring scheme – Step into STEM – which encourages schoolgirls to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.