A Halstead woman who worked for the NHS during lockdown and now has a new career after joining an Essex broadband company is encouraging more young people to enter the growing technology industry, in support of National Careers Week 2021 (March 1-6).
Bethany Warren described working as an emergency 999 call handler for the first six months of the pandemic as “very humbling” before joining Aldham-based County Broadband at the start of 2021.
The 21-year-old, who previously worked in finance and law, admitted she had some concerns about joining the technology industry due to her lack of experience in technology but described the first two months as “amazing” and praised County Broadband’s “very friendly and supportive culture” despite the challenges of working from home.
Bethany, a Corporate Services Executive at County Broadband, said: “I was a bit concerned about my lack of technical skills and knowledge before applying but honestly it has been such an amazing first couple of months and I’ve learned so much and have received so much incredible support.
“I’ve shocked myself. I thought I wouldn’t quite have the right technical skills or experience to do this type of job or work in this type of field. But with technology there is so much you can get stuck into and learn and pick up as you go along. It’s been an exciting whirlwind so far – I didn’t need to worry at all and I’m really enjoying it. I wouldn’t have thought at the age of 21 that I would be in charge of fleet management among doing a whole host of other tech-related projects.”
County Broadband is engaging with over 160 villages across East Anglia to build ‘future-ready’ full-fibre broadband infrastructure, backed by millions of pounds of private funding from Aviva Investors.
The Hyperfast full-fibre (fibre-to-the-premises) infrastructure is replacing existing Superfast (fibre-to-the-cabinet) networks which date back to the Victorians. These part fibre networks contain copper cables which reduce speeds and affect reliability.
With the increased reliance on broadband accelerated by Covid-19, the government and industry experts have said only full-fibre networks, which can take up to 18 months to build, can provide the gigabit-capable speeds and reliability that homes and businesses will need over the coming years.
Before joining County Broadband, Bethany graduated with a Performing Arts diploma from the Colchester Institute and worked for a finance company for two years and a solicitors for just under two years before the Covid-19 outbreak.
She was left unemployed due to the pandemic and joined the East of England Ambulance Service Trust as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher, following in the footsteps of her mother who was previously a paramedic and now works for a local GP surgery and is helping to administer Covid-19 vaccinations, as well as following in the footsteps of her brother who previously worked for the ambulance service and has since become a firefighter.
“It was a very stressful but humbling experience,” Bethany said. “Knowing that you have helped to save someone’s life is a feeling quite unlike anything else. It was eye-opening and there were some really rewarding moments. But you also took things home with you that you just couldn’t forget.”
She found temporary work in accountancy before spotting an advert to join County Broadband.
“Despite all the challenges of remote working, everyone has made a big effort to help me feel part of the team,” she added. “There’s such a brilliant, friendly and supportive culture. On Blue Monday we all shared photos of our pets to cheer us up. My training and induction has also been exceptional.”
County Broadband has previously reported how its workforce has grown by 500% following the £46 million private investment from Aviva Investors in 2018 to rollout full-fibre broadband, while it has backed calls for more investment in training and skills to produce more “shovel-ready” engineers.
Around 20% of County Broadband’s workforce is aged 16-25, with people moving from retail, hospitality, call centres and other careers to join the telecommunications company and sector.
Lewis Simington, Director of People Operations at County Broadband, said: “The landscape is forever changing in the job market with the tech industry enjoying accelerated growth, in part due to the current shift to digital solutions. It’s an exciting time to be at the forefront of major societal change.
“It means skillsets you may traditionally have thought wouldn’t be relevant are now being adopted. This creates more opportunities for young people, so they shouldn’t be deterred from joining a growing and ambitious local tech firm like County Broadband.
“The demand for data is only going one way so we are working hard to future-proof communities by building full-fibre networks. However, we need the people and skills to make these ambitious infrastructure projects a reality so we must future-proof our industry as well. That’s why, as a community focused provider, we are continuing to invest in and nurture local talent.”
For more details about County Broadband, which is currently recruiting for six vacancies including a Fibre Field Engineer and a Project Director, and to see if you are in their rollout postcode checker, visit www.countybroadband.co.uk.
For more information about National Careers Week 2021, visit www.nationalcareersweek.com