Case Study: Providing a state of the art, hands-on training approach

This digital network business built a state of the art, replica street so that trainee engineers could really put their learning into practice.

Two years ago Openreach decided that it needed to make a significant strategic change to its entire training approach in order to meet Ofcom’s minimum service levels and improve its employee engagement scores.

Open Street – the world’s first live, networked replica street – was built inside a disused building on Openreach’s site in Bradford. Trainees can see, touch, feel and work on a live end-to-end telecommunications network within the safety of a training environment.

Since its launch the business has met Ofcom’s service requirements for the first time in four years and staff engagement has risen by 11%.

Openreach
Date 2018
Region East Midlands
Size 1000+ employees
Sector Telecoms

% employee engagement increase

new Open Streets in development

engineers recruited in 2017/2018

£m investment in training

Putting learning into practice

Openreach connects homes and businesses to each other using digital networks across the UK and works with a range of over 600 communication providers such as Sky and Vodafone.

In response to learner feedback the business realised that it was missing something from its training – the ability for learners to practise and demonstrate their combined learning in a real-life scenario setting.

As Head of Training Delivery and Facilities Mark Rainbow explains: “Four years ago we had three national training centres where trainees from across the UK had to go to undertake training, which was very modular in its approach. Employees would learn how to wire a board and install a socket but would have no idea of other things to consider when visiting a customer’s premises.”

Mark was instrumental in developing a network showcase which launched in Stafford in 2016. Built into a classroom, the showcase mirrored a real live network and gave employees the chance to practise working on the network and all of the elements that come with it within a classroom environment.

At the same time Openreach changed how it was delivering training by introducing a qualifications framework and creating ‘facilitrainers’ moving away from a more traditional teacher/pupil relationship.

‘We are creating regional training centres and with that comes a community feel. We can use the centres to engage more schools and colleges and get them interested in thinking about telecoms and engineering as possible career choices.’

Mark Rainbow, Head of Training Delivery and Facilities at Openreach

Building Customer Service

The success of the original network showcase provided the impetus for Open Street to be built in Bradford. “We realised that we had created a great learning experience that was bringing together not just the technical ability but also the application of health and safety, quality and accreditation, all within a safe space,” said Mark, “and we wanted to take it even further”.

Launched in December 2017, at a cost of £220,000, Open Street is attracting a lot of attention. Take-up on training courses has increased enormously and over 1000 visitors have come to explore Open Street, providing better knowledge and insight to communications providers and call handlers who are the first point of contact with customers.

Senior employees have recently agreed to the development of 11 more ‘Open Streets’ across the UK and Mark is excited about plans to develop: “We are creating regional training centres and with that comes a community feel. We can use the centres to engage more schools and colleges and get them interested in thinking about telecoms and engineering as possible career choices.”

With employee engagement figures rising by 10% in the past two years and Openreach reaching Ofcom service standards in 2018, it’s clear that the business’s innovative approach to upskilling its employees is paying off.

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