New ‘Senior Engineer’ role in Openreach delivers promotion opportunities for 1,600

Telecoms & Financial Services, Openreach 

The all new approach to ‘Engineering Career Pathways’ agreed between the CWU and Openreach last summer has just delivered its latest prize with regards to tackling limited career development and promotion opportunities within the field environment.

Following the conclusion of a successful pilot on the North East, agreement has now been reached on the creation of a new ‘Senior Engineer’ role that will offer significant opportunities for pay enhancement and career progression for around 1,600 B2 and TMNE2 engineers this year alone.

This week adverts have gone out for the new roles across Openreach – the intention being to recruit at least one Senior Engineer in every engineering team – and two in larger teams – by the end of March.

Successful candidates – who will need to be able to demonstrate their ability to become the ‘go to’ person for other team members requiring assistance and advice on jobs – will receive an overall remuneration package of £33,000 (£30,000 basic plus a 10 per cent bonus) – representing a pay hike of almost £7,000 for those on the minimum of their pay ranges, and just over £3,000 for longer serving B2s at the top of their pay spine.

The new opportunities come on top of those already extended to Workforce 2020 TMNE2 engineers recruited since 2014 to virtually close the pay gap between them and their B2 contact colleagues’ pay levels by undergoing additional training and becoming ‘Advanced Engineers’.

As well as providing further career enhancement opportunities for both TMNE2 and B2 engineers, the rollout of the new Senior Engineer role represents a big step forward in the CWU’s aim of embedding a positive workplace culture of engineers being able to seek advice and help from a trusted colleague without having to flag up gaps in their knowledge or experience to management – something the CWU has long believed has mitigated against the maximisation of skill sets that the company badly needs.

“Fundamentally, this is about team members who recognise that they have something they need help with being able to turn to a highly experienced fellow team member who is specifically there to provide practical help and advice,” explains CWU assistant secretary Davie Bowman.

“The new Senior Engineers, who will be specifically selected on the basis of their approachability and communication skills as well as their technical expertise, will provide just what has been missing in many areas. Namely highly practical ‘on the job’ assistance for those needing help from someone who is truly approachable because they are ‘on the tools’, conducting exactly the same type of work in the real world.

“In the new performance environment within Openreach it’s vitally important that our members have the confidence to be able to ask for practical help without fear of their request being taken out of context – and the new Senior Engineer role will fulfil precisely that need,” Davie continues.

Tackling promotion ‘wastelands’

At the same time the creation of the new role will help address a chronic shortage of career progression for B2 engineers that has become increasingly acute in recent years as a result of technological advance, process changes and the concentration of traditionally higher-paid desk based roles in a much smaller number of sites.

“Apart from providing an important new element of peer support for Field Engineers across Openreach, the recruitment of 1,600 Senior Engineers will do much to tackle the promotion ‘wastelands’ that currently exist for B2 field engineers across much of the UK,” stresses Davie.

“Crucially, all those taking on Senior Engineer roles will move on to their enhanced pay with all with their other terms and conditions unchanged.

“The CWU has also sought and received categorical assurances that the role doesn’t replace the role of the Coach, OMA or Field Based Coordinator, and will not provide administrative support to the line manager – and that is important because it’s important that the bond of trust between Senior Engineers and their colleagues in a team isn’t eroded by any blurring of responsibilities.”

Davie concludes: “This has been a highly successful exercise from the CWU’s point of view, addressing a long-standing ambition to create meaningful career progression in the Field environment – but we’re not finished with Career Pathways yet.

“The National Team intends to build on this significant success and is currently looking at whether scope exists for another new role that would sit between the Senior Engineer and the operational manager that could result in further opportunities for career advancement – so watch this space!”

All 75 of the engineers who took part in the successful North East pilot of the new ‘Senior Engineer’ role were invited to a special celebration at Darlington Rugby Club last week to kickstart the national rollout of the new role


Davie Bowman

The Lead Officer responsible for Openreach is Davie Bowman, CWU Assistant Secretary.

Davie’s PA is Louise Lane. Her contact details are: Tel: 020 8971 7418 or

The National Team who support the Officer on Openreach matters are:

Julia Upton (Chair)
Nick Darbyshire
John Donnelly
Julia Upton
Dave Mitchell
Phil Thomas
Garry Woodman

Openreach was formally launched on 11 January 2006. It is the most visible organisational change as a result of undertakings given by BT as part of the Telecom Strategic Review.

Openreach employs around 30,000 people, of which 28,500 are in CWU represented grades.

Openreach team members maintain, build and repair the local access network from the exchange to the end-users’ premises. Openreach’s role is to provide ‘equivalence’ or equal access to the local loop for all communication providers.

The CWU is very much involved in the shaping of Openreach at grassroots level, and in seeking to change both the gender and ethnic balance in the workforce.

Agreement: Collective Agreement on High Level Principles and Consultative Arrangements for Resourcing between Openreach (A BT Group Business) and the CWU
OPENREACH Attendance Patterns Framework Agreement 170709

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