Service Delivery delivers on pledge to fast-track career progression for thousands 

Telecoms & Financial Services, Openreach

Image: Peter_Fleming / Shutterstock

Openreach has today (Thursday) reinforced its commitment to  helping ALL engineers in Service Delivery upskill to ‘advanced engineering’ level within two years – bringing the tantalising prospect of significant pay hikes for more than 3,000 into sharp and achievable focus.

Seven weeks to the day after a major breakthrough in long-running discussions with the company to secure an ‘enhanced career pathway’ was reported to members (see story and an associated Letter to Branches here) Openreach has this afternoon emailed all those who stand to benefit, confirming they have been automatically enrolled in the 2022/23 training schedule for underground (UG) skilling, should they wish to take it up.

The difference UG upskilling  makes to individuals in plain monetary  terms – let alone in skills-based career development ones – is significant, because it fast-tracks progression from the lower TMNE2 pay point of  £25,775 plus 10% bonus to the upper paypoint of  £28,911 and 10% OTB – a pay hike of just over £3,000.

Long demanded by the CWU – not least because it provides those on Workforce 2020 contracts with the opportunity of receiving remuneration levels that are within a whisker of those received by their NewGRID B2 contract counterparts – ­the company’s conversion to the benefits of fast-tracked upskilling means the time it takes to reach the upper pay point has been dramatically truncated.

One significant contributor to the fast-tracking has been the union’s success in persuading the company that the H&S training module – which has to be completed as a precursor to the advanced engineering skills modules – be added to the training package completed in the first few weeks of employment as a trainee engineer.

CWU national officer for Openreach, Davie Bowman, explains: “Members who complete the H&S training during their traineeship will receive the pay uplift at the point at which they complete one of the advanced skills qualifying courses – and this will be effective from the start date of the course (or first qualifying module for combined complex cabling and jointing).

“Engineers who did not complete the health and safety training during their traineeship will receive the pay uplift backdated to the start of the health and safety course, following the completion of the final course on the pathway, in line with the existing agreement.

“Significantly, Openreach has agreed that any Advanced Engineer training which is cancelled due to operational constraints will be rescheduled into the following quarter. That’s an important step forward because previously, on average, it could take an engineer up to three years to progress to an Advanced Engineer.”

The email that each and every one of the 3,100-plus engineers who stand to benefit should have received from their Regional Director this afternoon provides a clear provisional time-window in which their UG training will take place (subject to the maintenance of service-level commitments) – along with the pledge that actual training dates and locations will be provided ‘giving plenty of time to arrange your personal plans at home’.

CWU Openreach national team chair Fiona Curtis stresses: “This is great news for all concerned, and shows that the company is committed to sticking to the ‘career pathway’ that the CWU has agreed within Service Delivery.

“I’d urge the thousands of our members who stand to benefit to watch out closely for that email. If, for whatever reason, they have not received it – or it does not promise upskilling in a timeframe they believe to be reasonable –they should speak to their patch manager and local CWU rep without delay.”