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Openreach showcase van hits the road in Wales

The latest tool in Openreach’s drive to get pupils thinking about careers in engineering – a high-tech Showcase van – hit the road for the first time in Wales earlier last week at a careers fair at Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli.

The digital network business has created two new, customised vehicles which will tour the UK to showcase the latest communications technologies to the wider world.

The first stop in Wales was the the two-day SkillsCymru Carmarthenshire event which had more than 100 exhibitors from across Wales attending along with hundreds of young people in Years 10 and 11 from across Carmarthenshire.

With more than 100 exhibitors from across Wales visiting the careers fair the attendees had the chance to meet employers face to face and find out more about their potential dream job.

Connie Dixon, Openreach Partnership Director for Wales, said: “Wales is facing a STEM skills shortage in the next few years. Fewer young people are choosing to enter engineering and scientific careers. If they don’t identify with the people they see doing these jobs, they rule themselves out without even realising it.

“As a business built on engineering and one of the UK’s biggest recruiter of apprentices, we’re working hard to attract a more diverse range of young people to STEM careers. Hands-on experiences are the best way to engage young people in engineering, so it’s great to have our new Showcase van making its first public appearance in Wales at this fantastic event.

“Supporting events like this is one of the ways Openreach helps young people see that there are exciting options out there. While some believe engineering involves a lot of heavy lifting, those days are behind us. Modern engineering is really about problem solving and finding creative ways to do things.”

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The vans are specially designed and equipped to takes learners on an engineering journey which shows how fibre broadband powers all the things people like to do online.

They’re kitted out with everything from cables and fibre equipment to a TV and gaming station which stream content in the same way as people would at home. Virtual reality headsets and specially shot 360-degree footage show what life is like as an engineer, and the vans also feature 4G, wifi and much more.

Openreach’s Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) footprint, at speeds of up to 80Mbps2, currently passes more than 1.3 million homes and business premises across Wales. The digital network business has also ramped up plans for Fibre-to-the-Premises, aiming to reach four million homes and businesses across the UK by March 2021, and, if the conditions are right, to go significantly beyond. It has also unveiled plans to build full fibre (FTTP) across Carmarthenshire.