The West Midlands has faced the same economic challenges as many other regions over the last two years - the impact of the pandemic, high inflation and rising energy prices have led to cost of living pressures and uncertainty for many households and businesses.

Like every business, BT Group has been hit by the same challenges, but has maintained its major investment in full fibre broadband and mobile connectivity across the West Midlands, and other parts of the UK, writes Nick Speed, Head of Nations & Regions, Policy and Public Affairs, BT Group

Dudley News:

We believe this once-in-a-generation investment in digital infrastructure will give regions like this the future-proofed connectivity it will need to stay ahead and grow in the decades to come.

We know that the big innovations and growth sectors of the future – like self-driving cars and 5G-enabled robotic factories – are going to depend on reliable, high speed connectivity.

BT Group, via its digital network business Openreach, has now reached around 900,00 premises across the West Midlands with full fibre broadband, and our 5G mobile network now reaches nearly 70% of the UK population.

According to independent research published recently, BT Group employed nearly 7,000 people across the West Midlands in the last financial year (2021/22) and spent around £640m with suppliers based in the region.

The knock-on impact of the spend of BT Group employees, and payment to suppliers in the region, results in an estimated boost of nearly £2 billion to the local economy.

BT Group is also transforming and modernising the way it works, including developing new and refurbished offices and workspaces. In 2021 we opened our new flagship regional office hub at Three Snowhill in Birmingham for more than 3,000 colleagues. The state-of-the-art building was one of the first of our future-fit offices in the UK to open as part of our ‘Better Workplace Programme’.

New offices like this are about bringing colleagues together in brilliant spaces that will enable collaboration, help us attract and retain the best people and help us to better serve our customers.

Our new offices and workspaces, however, are nothing without the colleagues and teams working in them. Take, for example, Ashruti Rajesh who began working as a data analyst for BT in Birmingham Three Snowhill last year. She had enrolled in the BT Group FastFutures programme for 16-to-24 year olds after her final year at Warwick University in 2021.

Speaking about her experience, Ashruti said: “Before I realised that I wanted to work in technology, I took part in FastFutures, an online programme which gives young people more insight into the professional working world and gave me more exposure to what working in Data would look like. Soon after, I discovered that CodeFirstGirls were offering fully funded bootcamps – or ‘CFGdegrees – to help women upskill in data and coding.

“I signed up and fortunately got a place sponsored by BT Group. I completed the three-month course and was then offered a role as a Data Analyst.”

Despite the challenges, BT Group is in a unique position, as the UK's lead investor in connectivity, to help drive economic growth and power the West Midlands economy of the future.