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Openreach creating 200 jobs across Wales

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MORE than 200 jobs are being created across Wales, as part of a huge recruitment drive announced this week by Openreach.

The majority of new roles will be for trainee engineers – located around the country including Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Swansea – and will join the country’s largest team of telecoms experts working to expand, upgrade, maintain and install services over Openreach’s national broadband network.

60 desk-based roles will also be created in Cardiff working on Openreach’s commitment to opening up its Duct and Pole infrastructure to other communication providers. The new recruits will join the 1800 strong Openreach workforce that are already based in Wales.

When combined with last year’s recruitment of around 250 trainee engineer roles Openreach will have created more than 450 – mostly trainee engineer roles – throughout Wales.

Across the UK, more than 3,000 trainee engineers are being recruited, mainly to deliver the company’s ‘Fibre First’ programme, which is bringing faster, more reliable and future proof Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technology to millions of front doors.

Clive Selley, Chief Executive of Openreach said: “Openreach is ambitious for the UK and is determined to build full fibre as quickly as possible to ensure the country has a reliable broadband network capable of supporting future data-hungry services and applications essential for boosting productivity and sustaining our position as a leading digital economy.”

“We’re making great progress towards reaching our target of upgrading three million homes and businesses to full fibre by the end of 2020 – reaching another 13k premises per week – and these new recruits in Wales will play a crucial role in that programme. Openreach is a people business and our new apprentices will enable us to fulfil our commitments, with an ultimate ambition to deliver the best possible connectivity to everyone, everywhere, equally, across the entire country.”

Welsh Government Economy Minister, Ken Skates said: ”News that Openreach is set to create over 200 new roles in locations across North, South, Mid and West Wales is hugely welcome. These are high quality jobs, with a mixture of trainee engineer roles and desk based jobs that will help to ensure people across Wales enjoy the first class connectivity that modern life demands.

“Thanks to our Superfast Cymru programme, which is driven by a partnership between private and public sector, 95% of properties across Wales now have access to superfast broadband and we remain committed to increasing that figure.

“We will continue to work closely with Openreach on our successor project which will roll-out to a further 26,000 premises across Wales, with the majority of these premises enjoying access to ultrafast speeds. We look forward to these new recruits playing an important part in that work.”

Huw Jones, Openreach’s director for service delivery in Wales, said: “We want people from all walks of life to apply for roles at Openreach, to build a diverse workforce that reflects the hugely diverse communities we serve. Last year we successfully recruited more women than ever before – and this year we want to go even further.

“Becoming an engineer can be an incredibly rewarding career, and we’re constantly improving our training and recruitment programmes to make sure we attract and keep the best in the business. We’re investing heavily in upskilling our people, so they can now do more for customers in a single visit and we recently launched new career pathways to give our engineers a clear sense of the skills, accountabilities and experience they need to get where they want to be.”

Openreach has already announced plans to invest in a new £1.2m fibre engineering academy at Newport that, when ready, will be used to help train the new recruits and upskill engineers.

To find out more about the Trainee Engineer Scheme click here www.openreach.co.uk/caree

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Llanelli lockdown looms

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PUBLIC HEALTH WALES have confirmed that Wales’ first town-only lockdown could happen after experts express concern at a spike in the level of positive Coronavirus cases in and around Llanelli.
Dr. Quentin Sandifer, Public Health Wales’ Medical Director confirmed that a ‘high level of concern’ exists at a virtual meeting of the Senedd’s Health, Social Care and Sports Committee this morning (Wednesday, Sept 23).
Dr. Sandifer was questioned by Assembly Member David Rees who asked: “How small an area could you go down to if you wanted local restrictions?”
The Public Health Wales representative replied by stating: “Looking at the position in Carmarthenshire, we do see quite a variation within that county area, with the highest figures of concern in the Llanelli area.
“That is where we are paying particular attention within Carmarthenshire. So we are able to go down to a sub-county, local level in terms of our considerations, and that is what we are actively doing.”
Dr. Sandifer went on to say that local lockdowns imposed early elsewhere, like Caerphilly, are “beginning to demonstrate some effect on infection rates.”
With the threat of a local lockdown hanging over Llanelli, a mobile testing unit has been set up at Parc-Y-Scarlets today and if you require a test, you can e-mail covidenquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk or call 0300 333 2222.

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Gemma runs 50 miles for air medics who attended her Dad

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A GRATEFUL Ammanford mum has raised £350 by running 50 miles for the Wales Air Ambulance after the Charity’s medics tried to save her dad’s life last year.

The air medics were first on the scene after Gemma Pritchard’s dad Gerry, suffered a major heart attack in February 2019. He sadly passed away in intensive care two days later.

Speaking of the care her dad received, the mum-of-one said: “The service they provided was out of this world. Every member of the crew kept us updated every chance they could. They worked tirelessly to save my dad and despite all efforts from the crew he sadly passed away a few days later. I will forever owe them my life for all the efforts that evening.

“Losing our dad was so hard after already losing my mother in 2011. We had to go through all the heartache of losing another parent.” 

Gemma, 30, who works in Jenkins Bakery and as a cleaner, completed the 50-mile challenge in 13 days. Running wasn’t something that came naturally to Gemma before the fundraiser. She was supported by her husband Owain and daughter Lillie-May, 5, to complete the challenge.

Owain did the last run with Gemma, which was 10 miles. She added: “I couldn’t run 10 seconds before the challenge he pushed me massively to achieve my goal.

“My first run I managed 3 miles then I upped it to 5 miles, then 6 and then I went straight in for the 10 miles. My poor feet still feel it now. I knew this would be a massive challenge to myself.”

This is Gemma’s first fundraiser and she is already thinking of different ways she can raise funds for the charity in future.

She said: “I’m overwhelmed at the funds I did raise, although I would’ve loved to raise a lot. I’m still very happy with what I have raised for my first of many fundraisers for such an amazing crew.

“I’d like to thank everyone who donated.  I’m so proud of completing my challenge.”

Mark Stevens, Wales Air Ambulance Fundraising Manager, said: “We are extremely grateful for the support Gemma has shown our charity. It is incredible to hear that despite Gemma’s loss she still wanted to show her support to our medics. It’s inspirational to hear that she picked a 50-mile fundraiser even though she couldn’t previously run before the challenge.

“Thank you to Gemma and everyone who has supported her. We’re delighted to hear that Gemma hopes to raise more funds in the future for our Charity.”

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The latest increase in coronavirus in Wales is ‘sobering’ says First Minister

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THE FIRST MINISTER, Mark Drakeford has criticised the lack of communication with the UK government as he gave a briefing on what he described as the “sobering” increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalisation in Wales.

The infection rate in Wales has risen to 23.6 infections for every 100k people as cases have spiked in areas including Merthyr, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Caerphilly and Newport.

Hospitalisations remain low but are rising, with five people currently in intensive care with Covid-19 and and 53 Covid patients on all hospital wards, according to the latest data from Public Health Wales from Sunday, September 13.

Mr Drakeford said that the number of people in hospital with coronavirus had risen to 41 with four people in intensive care.

He also said that the R number in Wales was almost certainly now above one – meaning the virus is spreading exponentially again. The latest estimate, he said, was between 0.7 and 1.2.

Mr Drakeford said: “In this most difficult week, there has been no meeting offered to First Ministers of any sort. Since the 28 May, there has been just one brief telephone call from the Prime Minister.

“This is simply unacceptable to anyone who believes that we ought to be facing the coronavirus crisis together.

“We need a regular, reliable, rhythm of engagement: a reliable meeting even once a week would be a start. I make this argument not because we should all do the same things, but because being round the same table allows each of us to make the best decisions for the nations we represent.

“There is a vacancy at the heart of the United Kingdom, and it needs urgently to be filled, so we can talk to each other, share information, pool ideas and demonstrate a determination that the whole of the country can face these challenges together at this most difficult time.”

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