One of the best-known brands in the UK, BT is undoubtedly in pole position when it comes to expanding the telecoms market and blended learning plays a key part in that development. By Nic Paton
The best-known of Britain's telecoms firms and, until the rise of Vodafone, the biggest, BT - or British Telecom as it was then known - was born in 1981 when it was split from the Post Office.
It floated in 1984 and, as the first national listing of a public utility, became one of the benchmark privatisations of the Thatcher era.
The company changed its name to BT in 1991, unveiling its famous (and much criticised at the time) 'Piper' logo and, in 1999, took sole ownership of BT Cellnet, the UK mobile phone business.
However, the high cost of the auction for the next generation of mobile phones and a series of expensive overseas acquisitions and joint ventures plunged the company deeply into debt and, two years ago, a comprehensive restructuring operation was announced.
This included splitting its fixed-line telephony businesses and, last year, selling its Yell directories business, undertaking the UK's largest ever rights issue and demerging BT Wireless, its global mobile arm, which was renamed mmO2. Chairman Sir Iain Vallance and chief executive Sir Peter Bonfield both departed.
As of March, BT employed about 108,600 staff, mostly in the UK. Pre-tax profits for the year were £1.27bn on turnover of £18.45bn, down on the £1.76bn the previous year.
Early in 2002, new chief executive Ben Verwaayen set out the company's strategy of becoming a single, integrated telecommunications business, a move welcomed by the City, which had in the past accused BT of trying too hard to be all things to all men and ending up as master of none.
Last year, BT recruited 4,000 staff - 400 graduates with the rest split 50/50 between managers and other staff. In a sector that is notoriously fast-moving and difficult to judge, this year's targets are likely to be much the same, says Caroline Waters, head of employment policy.
All graduates are enrolled on a two-year training programme, through the company's Virtual Academy e-learning portal, with trainees placed in local business units to build up valuable experience.
For the first time this year, BT has insisted that graduates apply online, having run a conventional application process in paralle