Openreach and IntoUniversity team up to support social mobility and open up telecoms careers for young people facing disadvantage

Year-long partnership to get young people facing disadvantage more confident about the world of work.

Openreach and IntoUniversity  have joined forces to give young people facing disadvantage a taste of working life.

The partnership – which sees IntoUniversity work in the telecoms sector for the first time – will give Openreach people the opportunity to share their knowledge and life experiences to inspire young people, teach them new skills and encourage them to take the first or next steps in their careers. IntoUniversity and its partners support thousands of young people, providing programmes and workshops in their 43 centres across England and Scotland, to boost young peoples confidence and build their transferable skills.

Research reveals the challenges facing young people from less advantaged backgrounds:

  • 29 per cent of children in the UK are growing up in poverty (Joseph Rowntree Foundation);
  • By the end of secondary school (key stage 4), disadvantaged pupils were over 18.8 months behind their peers. This gap has widened since 2019 (by 0.7 months) to reach its highest level since 2012 (Education Policy Institute); Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are four times less likely to go to university, and 12 per cent less likely to go to a selective university (UCAS End of Cycle Report, 2021).

The appetite for volunteers from Openreach is already strong after two successful trials in South London and Bradford last year, where more than 15 volunteers stepped forward from both engineering and desk-based teams. The volunteers helped young people understand the company’s broadband network, through hands on activities such as fibre splicing and interactive demos to make the workshops as interesting as possible for the young people.

As part of the partnership, volunteers have already taken part in activities this year such as a ‘Business in FOCUS’ workshop in Peterborough, and most recently in Leeds on Monday July 8. During the one day event, students in Years 8-13 (ages 12-18) were able to compete in a Dragon’s Den-style exercise allowing them to develop their teamwork, communication and leadership skills. Openreach has also hosted two ‘Careers in FOCUS’ workshops in Leeds and Liverpool, during which students in Years 8-11 (ages 12-16) could hear from volunteers about their education and path to employment.

Looking ahead, Openreach will also be hosting a ‘Careers in FOCUS’ event on site at one of its training schools where students will be hearing from volunteers, completing an Open Street tour, attending training on communication skills, and receiving recognition for completing the IntoUniversity programme. There are other events planned across the country including Leeds & Southampton over the coming year.

Openreach employees each have three days of company time per year to volunteer for a good cause, as part of the company’s mantra of #ConnectForGood. Previous volunteering events have seen employees clean up their local beaches, pick up litter and take part in charity chess tournaments.

Belinda Bagge, General Counsel and Diversity & Inclusion Lead, Openreach, said: “We’re excited to be working with IntoUniversity to help young people learn more about the world of work, specifically in a STEM career.

“Young people facing disadvantage are full of potential, but circumstances mean they are underrepresented across many sectors, including telecoms. This partnership has the potential to open up a world of possibilities to these young people, to let them know the variety of options that a career in telecoms, and at Openreach specifically, can offer them, and to provide them with practical guidance on how to reach their goals.”

Dr Rachel Carr OBE, Co-founder and Chief Executive of IntoUniversity, said: “We’re really delighted to be launching this new partnership with Openreach. Working in collaboration, we’ve already been able to deliver some amazing workshops for young people, opening their eyes to a different industry and the variety of potential career opportunities that it offers. Not only are Openreach providing us with much-needed funding, these workshops, delivered by Openreach volunteers, are a core part of our programme which help our students build their knowledge and understanding of the array of options out there for them and start to see themselves in jobs they might never have even heard of! We thank Openreach for their support and look forward to working with them throughout the partnership.”


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Year-long partnership to get young people facing disadvantage more confident about the world of work.