BT set to retrain 25,000 in massive change scheme

BT is set to start one of the biggest change management programmes ever in the telecoms sector. It involves retraining 25,000 engineers as part of the launch of Openreach, an £8bn division of the telecoms company.

Openreach was set up as part of a regulatory deal to give all telecoms operators access to the same local networks. The engineers, many of whom are long-standing employees of BT, will be retrained to work as part of the new organisation.

These engineers will take responsibility for the ‘first mile’ of the network between the customer and the exchange, including the installation of new lines, erecting poles and upgrading the local networks.

Jane Hobbs, HR director at Openreach, said the creation of the new division was one of the most significant events in telecommunications since privatisation.

“My role as HR director will be at the heart of ensuring that we deliver the transformation that we have promised,” she said.

Hobbs said she was attempting to allay any fears the engineers – the majority being male and in their 40s – may have about the transition by ensuring that communication is as transparent as possible.

Steve Robertson, Openreach’s chief executive, has been holding a series of regional roadshows for engineers, explaining the new organisation and their part in it. Focus groups, a short film and breakfast meetings have also been organised for all employees involved.

Hobbs said it had been difficult to communicate with all the engineers, as many are mobile and do not have access to PCs.

“We’ve used different channels, including monthly team meetings, audio calls, e-mail and radio messages,” she said.

The firm will also be introducing a coaching and mentoring programme for its 2,000 senior managers, and an incentive scheme for all employees.

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