By 2022, the UK will need half a million more workers in digital industries. Bridging this gap is vital to the country’s competitiveness – and for companies like us that need tech talent. With youth unemployment stuck around 11%, compared with less than 4% for the general population, tech skills can offer young people a path to a brighter future.

Our Work Ready programme is designed to help. We work with job seekers to empower them to take the first step on the career ladder. Participants learn digital and other key employability skills, and gain work experience to improve their prospects. This year, over 600 18 to 24-year-olds not currently in education, employment or training shadowed Openreach engineers, getting an insight into what it takes to keep Britain connected. We also offer Work Ready participants mock interviews, and advice on how to improve their CVs and promote themselves online.

Over 3,300 young people have graduated from Work Ready since the programme began in 2014 and 1,891 have gone on to further education, apprenticeships or jobs. Of these, 183 have landed full-time jobs with BT and others have taken up opportunities elsewhere.

In 2019/20, 786 young people started Work Ready and 655 (83%) completed the programme – 258 of whom have already moved on into jobs or education.

The training I received was very, very helpful. It helped me with my CV, my interview technique, the way I portrayed myself and communicated. It's real life skills that you need in the real world. I was nervous at first, but the mentor managed to break the ice. It's made me think of a long-term career and it gave me the opportunity to get where I am now.

Jordan George Work Ready graduate and Openreach trainee engineer