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BTC apprentices are ‘the future’

The ten recently recruited Bermudian BTC apprentices. (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)

In a climate where Bermudians are finding it hard to land careers on their own turf, the Bermuda Telephone Company is helping to buck the trend.

The company has welcomed ten new local apprentices through a programme, aiming to give them valuable qualifications in the rapidly evolving industry of telecommunications.

The three-year programme, free to successful applicants, was the brainchild of BTC chief operating officer Andy Hudson, who noticed an ageing workforce in the company’s technical space.

Mr Hudson opted to avoid the “traditional route of succession planning” that entails advertising positions or finding already qualified technicians either from competitors or existing suppliers. He told The Royal Gazette: “I wanted to do something that benefited young Bermudian individuals and I wanted it to be a true apprenticeship with certification and accreditation at City and Guilds level.”

Mr Hudson said that the telecommunications industry is full of opportunities. “You don’t have to leave Bermuda to have a career,” he continued.

“The industry is changing quite rapidly, not only from the customer experience and expectations but also the devices — smartphones all the way through to the internet and people’s hunger for data as well as traditional voice and live streaming, which is very data hungry.

“We are in the midst of designing a fibre-to-the-home network and that will need more people as we start to roll it out.

“It is challenging — as the developers have quantum leaps, there is a chain reaction to the telecoms service providers who have to have that quantum leap and capability to provide that service all the way to the end user. It is constantly changing.”

The apprentices will study areas including the infrastructure of copper and fibre optics, transmission engineering, voice and data and how phone calls are made. “I want them to be the future of BTC and we have a chance to coach, shape and train them to be the best in class as multi-skilled technicians,” Mr Hudson said.

Mr Hudson, who started as an apprentice with British Telecom in 1986, has worked his way around the globe in a career spanning three decades.

“It is not just a job and apprenticeship, it is setting the foundation for a career,” he said.

“My wish is that these interns don’t necessarily stick around in the technician space but that they move on to roles in IP engineering or architectural roles within the business and work their way up the managerial chain and become leaders in the industry.”

Kent Henry, service delivery manager at BTC, has been working closely with the interns and said he had seen them flourish after just a few short months.

“This group of apprentices has a wide range of qualifications. We have guys who came straight out of high school versus a couple of guys who have degrees. That is what makes the team as strong as it is as we have a wide range of abilities — a person who may be strong academically may not be so good at working with their hands and it becomes a level playing field. That is what helps to build the team.

“The full-time technicians said they are surprised how much they have learnt in such a short period of time.”

BTC will be advertising future programmes, which are sponsored by the National Training Board, in the local press and on the company website.