An engineer who worked around the clock to keep people connected in the wake of Storm Arwen has been named Openreach’s Engineer of the Year 2022.

Luke Picken was nominated by colleagues for his efforts to restore broadband services across South West Scotland after the devastating storm in November.

The Maybole man has now picked up his distinctive prize – a brand new van with the personalised number plate OR22 ENG.

And Luke, 29, has even more good news to celebrate as wife Emma – also an Openreach network engineer – is expecting the couple’s first baby this winter.

He said: “When the winner’s details were being revealed, I was thinking ‘surely this person they’re talking about can’t be me?’.

“I’m very humbled that the company and my colleagues thought I deserved an award of such magnitude. I don’t see what I do as special – I just come to work and do the best I can for our customers and our team.”

What makes the recognition even more special for Luke is that he has achieved it despite being dyslexic. It’s a subject the specialist fibre engineer has spoken little about in the past.

He said: “I’ve always struggled with reading and writing, especially when I was younger, and I worried it would close doors to me. I hope my story shows other people with dyslexia that it doesn’t have to hold you back – you can get on despite it and achieve great things.”

Luke’s patch manager Alastair Gilroy said: “Luke is an absolute superstar so it’s brilliant to see him singled out from a UK workforce of 37,000 for the ultimate recognition.

“He worked tirelessly to sort out dozens of broadband faults after Storm Arwen battered the west of Scotland. The damage to our fibre network was unprecedented.

“Luke tracked down every fault location then co-ordinated our response to reconnect customers, often working into the night to find and fix an issue lurking somewhere in the network. His hard work and determination inspired his colleagues to pull out all the stops.

“That’s just one of the ways he’s an exceptional engineer.”

Luke was one of 160 UK finalists in the Openreach Shining Stars Awards 2022, shortlisted from 2,600 nominees put forward by their colleagues, which saw 20 recognised in categories for Exceptional Engineers; Safety, Inclusion and Environment Champions; Unsung Heroes; and Best Boss.

MSPs from around Scotland met engineers and apprentices from Openreach to discuss the roll out of full-fibre broadband and the economic benefits fast, reliable connectivity is bringing to Scotland’s economy during a drop-in session at the Scottish Parliament.

Around 20 MSPs, plus office staff and researchers, were updated on work being done to upgrade the country’s broadband network. They also met Openreach apprentices Hayley Goldthorpe and Jack Cotton to hear first-hand about their experiences.

Openreach recently announced it will create and fill around 500 more Scottish jobs during 2022 – including around 390 apprenticeships – as it continues to invest billions of pounds into its UK broadband network, people and training.

According to thinkbroadband, the UK’s largest independent broadband news and information site, nearly 95 per cent of Scots can currently access superfast broadband at 30Mbps+.

At the beginning of the year Openreach announced that more than half a million Scottish homes and businesses can now connect to its gigabit-capable, full fibre network. Around 350 Scottish cities, towns and villages are included in its rollout to 25m UK premises by the end of 2026.

The drop-in session was hosted by Fraser Rowberry, Openreach’s Chief Engineer for Scotland, who thanked Emma Harper MSP for sponsoring the event.

Fraser Rowberry said: “We know that reliable, ultrafast internet connections can have a transformative effect on businesses, online learning and people’s daily lives. That’s why we at Openreach are committed to rolling them out to homes and business premises across Scotland.

“Research from Cebr last year evidenced the hugely positive economic impact universal connections could have in Scotland. A comprehensive full fibre network could enable 76,000 people to re-enter the workforce and contribute billions of pounds to the Scottish economy.

“We were delighted to be able to take that positive story to MSPs today and set out our vision and plans for bringing ultrafast broadband to more of Scotland.”

Former Scotland rugby player Lewis Carmichael has joined Openreach Scotland’s engineering workforce after injury cut short his promising international career.

Lewis, from Peebles, was forced to retire from professional rugby on medical advice at the age of just 26, having represented Edinburgh nearly 50 times and donned the Scotland shirt against Canada and the USA in 2018.

He joins the growing team of engineers who keep people connected and install fast fibre broadband across Scotland. He’ll be working predominantly around Peebles, Hawick and Melrose and has already been contributing to the company’s response to storm response in the Borders this winter.

With 95 per cent of Scottish homes able to connect to superfast broadband, Openreach has announced plans to bring the next generation of technology – gigabit-capable full fibre – to around 350 cities, towns and villages across the nation. The new network now passes more than half a million homes and villages.

Lewis Carmichael, Openreach engineer and former Scotland rugby player, said: “The lifestyle at Openreach was a real draw for me. Having the freedom to travel round the country and take on new challenges makes every day different. Already I’ve been able to get out all across the South of Scotland and can see the material difference it makes to families and businesses to get a reliable superfast connection installed.

“Although it’s a stark change from life as a professional athlete, training and working so closely with a team all day, many aspects of the job are very familiar. When the recent storms hit it was an all-hands-on-deck approach to get people back connected.

“I knew about the opportunities at Openreach through friends but also because of the sponsorship at BT Murrayfield. I’ve completed my eight weeks’ training now but with each unique issue that arises I’m learning more. Every day’s a school day and I like that aspect of the role.”

Fraser Rowberry, Openreach’s Chief Engineer, who also started his career as an apprentice, added: “We aim to attract talented, enthusiastic hard workers from all sorts of backgrounds and former careers, and we’re really fortunate that Lewis was drawn to engineering as he considered his next steps after his pro-rugby career. He’s proving to be a real asset to the team, and we’re delighted that he now looks set for a sterling second career. He’s in good company, as we’ve also been joined by football internationalist Alana Marshall, current captain of Edinburgh’s Spartans FC, as a trainee this year.

“Openreach is a people business first and foremost, so I’m proud that we’re continuing to invest heavily in our team. It’s never too late to embark on the engineering training programme and pick up new skills that will last a lifetime.

“We’re creating and filling 500 more Scottish jobs during 2022 – including around 390 apprenticeships – as we continue to invest billions of pounds into the UK broadband network. There are posts on offer right across the country from Fife to Ayrshire, Angus to Stirling and the Highlands and Islands where new starts can relish in the same opportunities to get out and about solving practical problems and keeping people connected in their region every day.”

Lewis previously played for North Berwick and Melrose and continues to be involved in the sport as a coach at Southern Knights, a semi-professional club based at Melrose RFC home-ground of Greenyards.

Openreach today announced it will create and fill around 500 more Scottish jobs during 2022 – including around 390 apprenticeships – as it continues to invest billions of pounds into its UK broadband network, people and training.

The new recruits will be based across Scotland – including around 65 posts each in Fife and across Ayrshire, 55 each in Edinburgh and Glasgow, 40 each for Angus and Dundee and Highlands and Islands; and 30 each for Stirling and Scottish Borders – working to build and connect customers to the company’s ultrafast, ultra-reliable Full Fibre broadband network.

The mammoth build is on track to reach 25 million UK homes and businesses by December 2026 and has already reached more than half a million properties in Scotland.

The hiring spree – 4,000 new jobs are being created across the UK – is part of the largest recruitment drive in Openreach’s history and will also help deliver further improvements in customer satisfaction, which is at a record high[1].

With a workforce of 3,700 across Scotland, Openreach already employs the nation’s largest team of telecoms engineers and professionals and has committed to building a more diverse and inclusive team in an industry that’s traditionally been very white, male dominated.

Last year, 17 per cent of the company’s intake of trainee engineers in Scotland was female, more than triple the previous year. The boost was thanks partly to employing language experts to transform its job adverts and descriptions, making them gender neutral.

Clive Selley, CEO, Openreach, said: “Openreach is a people business first and foremost, so I’m proud that we’re continuing to invest heavily in our people, having hired and trained more than 8,000 new engineers over the last two years, over 800 of them across Scotland.

“We’re rightly recognised as one of the best big companies to work for, and we’re determined to stay that way, so we’ve been building state of the art training schools where we can teach people the skills and techniques they need for long, exciting and rewarding careers in engineering.

“We want to reflect the communities we serve and give opportunities to people from all backgrounds, so I’m encouraged that we’ve recruited more women and minority groups this year compared to last year, but we’ve got much more to do in an industry that hasn’t been very diverse historically.

“These new recruits will play a crucial role as we continue to improve services for our customers and build the biggest and best broadband network in Scotland.”

Scottish Government Employment Minister Richard Lochhead said: “Accessing fast and reliable broadband has never been so important. Building on the early success of our Young Person’s Guarantee and our ongoing significant investment in education, employability and skills, these additional 500 high quality jobs being created by Openreach will increase opportunities across Scotland.

“Apprenticeships are a key way for all employers to continue to invest in their workforce, providing core skills the economy needs now and in the future. This is central to the Scottish Government’s immediate priority to lead the country through the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic into a recovery that protects and creates jobs and backs our young people.”

Natasha Carswell, 30, from Carnwath, Lanark, joined Openreach last year after a career as a hairdresser. She said: “During the pandemic I lost my dad, which made me decide to take life into my own hands and make it a little more exciting. I want to do something that excites me and is different every day. People do get surprised to see a female engineer at the door. I absolutely love when I have a senior customer and doing one extra wee thing, like helping them set up the phone, can make their day and leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling.”

Alana Marshall, 34, from Dunfermline in Fife was a dog walker before deciding on a change of career. Also a semi-professional footballer, she currently plays for Spartans FC and has been capped for Scotland six times. Alana said: “I’ve always been interested in engineering and wanted to have a good job for my daughter. I really love getting my hands dirty and with this job you certainly do. I never have two days the same and haven’t come across anything I don’t like so far!

“So far I’ve had positive customer reactions. I know I’ll come across some challenges in the future – I’m used to it with playing football. I’d tell other women considering engineering to go for it, never have any doubt that you can’t or shouldn’t be doing a job like this. We are just as capable.”

The new roles offer a very competitive starting salary[2] and long-term career prospects, but candidates don’t need any formal qualifications to apply. All you need is a driving license, a strong work ethic, great customer service skills and an enthusiasm to work outdoors – Openreach will give you all the equipment and training you need to do the rest. Click here for a full list of employee benefits.

Alongside its recruitment drive, Openreach has committed to represent ONS measured levels of ethnic diversity3 across the UK and is aiming for at least 20 per cent of its trainee engineer recruits to be women this year, with 50 per cent of its external hires into management to be women by 2025. You can read more about the company’s commitments to Diversity and Inclusion here.

Openreach also plans to retrain more than 3,000 of its existing engineers during the next year – changing their focus from fixing older, copper-based technologies to installing and maintaining faster, more reliable fibre connections. Its national training centre in Livingston, West Lothian, expects to deliver 11,000 training days during the 2022/23 financial year.

AM Bid, Scotland’s largest bid and tender specialist, is delighted to announce that founder Andrew Morrison has been named Global Thought Leader of the Year by the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP).
The inaugural award, which was presented at the association’s annual conference in Dallas, Texas, recognises individuals who push the bid and proposal industry forward through innovation and educational contributions.
Andrew beat off stiff competition from around the world to land the prestigious accolade, the first time the Edinburgh-based company has won global recognition since forming in 2014.

“It’s an incredibly proud feeling to pick up this award, particularly as it has been selected by professional peers from around the world,” said Andrew, a former IoD Scotland director of the year.
“It’s the first time we have been recognised on the global stage and I’d like to express my gratitude to the judging panel. It’s an achievement I will treasure and provides a real boost for the business as we continue our scaling journey.”

Embracing social media, particularly the professional networking platform LinkedIn, in a bid to cope with the challenges of Covid, struck a chord with the judges, as did Andrew’s role in developing Ultimate Tender Coach, the UK’s first digital bid training programme aimed at winning SMEs more public sector contracts.

“I was the first bid professional in the world to be given a LinkedIn Live broadcasting licence to talk about bidding,” said Andrew.

“In the early stages of the pandemic I decided that video was the best way forward with in-person conferences and events off the agenda and since July 2020 I have delivered more than 100 live broadcasts on LinkedIn which have been seen by over 132,000 viewers.

“I find people are initially more interested in what I know rather than what I do. Our 80% bid win rate is independently audited every quarter and I was happy to share some of the secrets, so to speak, of that success, with the business community.

“Ultimate Tender Coach was also born out of the pandemic. The UK public sector tenders out £290bn worth of work a year. In Scotland alone, there is more than £12bn worth of work out to tender so there are a lot of opportunities for SMEs to get a share of that market.

“We wanted to develop something to give them a better chance of competing with the larger organisations. It’s great these innovations have been recognised by APMP as helping drive the industry forward.”
Andrew added: “I think there will be also recruitment and retention benefits going forward for us.

“People, at all stages of their career, want to work for an organisation that is going to develop them and I’m proud of our track record on that front to date. Colleagues join AM Bid with an expectation that they are going to get great career development and I see that being a strength of the firm going forward.”

– Report finds that training is key challenge in reaching net zero goals –

A report commissioned by Housing, Construction & Infrastructure (HCI) Skills Gateway has highlighted that training is the number one barrier to achieving net zero across the construction sector.

With increasing momentum to tackle the climate crisis, HCI commissioned the Circular Edinburgh team from Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce to work with a range of industry partners to discover what support would most benefit the construction sector as Scotland transitions to net zero.

Over 150 companies were contacted over a four-month period to assess their current activities in additional training, how they are building green skills within their workforce and – crucially – working to identify competency gaps.

As a result of the study, HCI has committed to delivering five key actions:

  • Increase access to retrofit training, starting with free courses for the region’s housing professionals delivered via the Built Environment – Smarter Transformation BE-ST, formerly Construction Scotland Innovation Centre.
  • Deliver courses in new building techniques and emerging technologies across the region’s further education colleges.
  • Map current sustainability accreditations and identify gaps and new training required.
  • Translate offsetting and audit academic research into practical carbon accounting tools relevant to industry in South East Scotland.
  • Inspire more young people into sustainable construction careers by funding partnerships like Daydream Believers and the Edinburgh Science Festival.

Dr Kenneth Leitch, Head of Civil, Transportation and Environmental Engineering at Edinburgh Napier University and Project Lead at HCI Skills Gateway said: “The idea of ‘green jobs’ in construction is a misnomer – everyone who works or enters work in housing, construction and infrastructure needs to be skilled in decarbonising our built environment, whatever their role.

“It is expected that the Scottish construction industry will need 22,500 new roles by 2028. These will be a mix of new skilled jobs, increased efficiencies in existing roles, and roles focussing on decarbonisation innovation.

“HCI is currently funded until 2025, and so we intend to put our five priority actions into motion in the next three years. This will ensure we are providing access to the skills and training needed to fill these new roles, and for on-the-ground delivery across the region to help our nation achieve its net zero ambitions.”

Mayan Grace, Director of Projects at Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce said: “Working on this project provided an opportunity to engage with businesses on one of the most pressing issues we face today, and gather their first-hand experiences on the skills gap around sustainability within the sector. We found the overwhelming theme was that more training is essential to equip the workforce with the skills they need.

“We were encouraged by business and the education sector’s ongoing willingness to work in collaboration, but to achieve this we need to ensure that it led by a joined-up approach. Only through strong partnerships between academia and business can we produce successful outcomes which allow us to achieve a sustainable future for the sector.”

Launched in 2019, HCI Skills Gateway is a £6m investment from the Edinburgh & South East Scotland City Region Deal, tasked with building inclusive and sustainable construction careers for all across the region.

Find the full report here:

UMi has appointed creative communications agency, Muckle Media, to help intermediaries, partners, government and business services come together around the common goal of making it easier for SMEs to succeed.
Following a competitive tendering process, Muckle Media was appointed to work collaboratively with UMi to help attract organisations from across the business services sector to join the UMi network.

With offices in Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow and Aberdeen and a reach across the UK and internationally, Muckle Media has extensive experience of bringing stakeholders together to devise innovative solutions to common business challenges.

UMi Chief Executive, Nicki Clark, said: “Muckle Media stood out from the crowd as a perfect partner to help us at what is an incredibly exciting time for our business. They stood out because of their shared values, demonstrated in part through their B Corp certification, their clear understanding of what it’s like to start and run a successful SME, and their track record in supporting businesses throughout the UK and beyond enhance their reach and recognition.

“Since 2007, UMi has helped over 450,000 businesses to do more and go further and through some exciting enhancements to UMi Sat Nav for business, we’re hoping to reach many more.”
Muckle Media Managing Director, Nathalie Agnew, added: “We’re thrilled to be working with such a forward-thinking and committed team as UMi. They provide valuable knowledge and resources to businesses across the UK, and we’re excited to help grow their network and support even more businesses to thrive on their journey.

“We’ve really enjoyed getting to know UMi and are looking forward to becoming an extension of their team over the next 12 months.”

This year UMi hopes to leverage the expertise of more corporates, blue-chips and large businesses than ever before through its partnership with Muckle Media, making it easier for businesses to think differently, innovate and grow.

Muckle Media will also help UMi grow its business-to-consumer offering and engage with entrepreneurs, start-ups, and SMEs, encouraging them to take advantage of the support and advice available through the UMi Sat Nav.
Launched late last year, the UMi Sat Nav is a unique platform and mobile application that helps businesses get to their destination quicker and in better shape.

It brings together the latest finance and funding opportunities, personalised business advice and monthly check-ins, and access to hundreds of events, workshops, tools and resources.

Sat Nav subscribers also benefit from a range of exclusive discounts and deals with trusted partners, all of which is aimed at taking the hard work out of starting, running and growing a business.
This latest win for Muckle Media forms part of the creative agency’s continued growth over the last 12 months following the acquisition of food and drink agency Taste Communications in April.

Universal Credit cuts, food inflation and rising energy costs are forcing people to choose between putting food on the table or paying the bills. In today’s world, this isn’t a choice anyone should have to make.

Through our FareShare network, community pantries and cook school we provide dignified access to quality food. We are calling on businesses across the city to support us to feed 20,000 people in Edinburgh and South East Scotland every single week. Our Food Is The First Step video shows how we make this happen. Check it out below:

In the past 3 months alone, we’ve seen a 30% increase in the use of our pantries.

We hope, like us, you agree that Food Is The First Step. When we support families with their shopping at our community pantries, we also offer informal support and link people to additional services such as our cooking classes, or financial support services, so they can access what they need to thrive.

An appeal donation from chamber members will help ensure we can provide dignified access to food for our local community. And for a limited time during our appeal, any gift will be DOUBLED at this crucial time so we can keep up with increasing demand.

Together, we can ensure no one has to go to bed hungry. Show your support here.

FUNDING provided by developers of new homes in north west Edinburgh has led to a route extension of the popular 41 Lothian bus service and a boost to public transport in the wider area.

A new bus terminus – part of the Cammo Meadows development off Maybury Road – will promote greater use of the city bus network and encourage those living nearby to make fewer car journeys.

The existing 41 service terminates at Cramond Road North, but from 5 June the route will be changed to start at Cammo, before heading down Whitehouse Road at Barnton junction, before heading down to Cramond and towards Davidson’s Mains via Cramond Road South.

An improved 43 service with more buses will continue to serve the existing section of Queensferry Road. As well as those living in Cammo, residents of Cramond will benefit from quicker and more reliable journeys to the city centre.

Working closely with City of Edinburgh and Lothian Buses, the infrastructure has now been completed at the development, where construction is underway to provide 655 new homes by Cala Homes (East) and David Wilson Homes East Scotland.

Keith Finlay, Business Development Manager for Lothian said: “We are delighted to work with Cala Homes, David Wilson Homes and the City of Edinburgh Council to bring vital bus links to this new community. Working closely with planning teams and developers at an early stage allows us to ensure that the relevant infrastructure requirements can be prioritised for consideration to facilitate the provision of a sustainable transport offering.”

Gavin Pope, Land Director for Cala Homes (East) said: “Many families considering Cammo Meadows as a potential future home will have a strong interest in environmental issues and particularly in reducing their carbon emissions.

“By supporting the building of this new bus terminus and the extension of the 41 bus route, we are providing existing residents and future home buyers with a greater choice in how they travel locally.

“Supporting active travel – using the bus, walking or cycling – was an important element in drawing up the blueprint for Cammo Meadows, and we are delighted to partner with Lothian to deliver this tangible benefit so early in the life of the development. We hope this will be the first service of many utilising this new infrastructure.”

Alan Lyall, Construction Director at Barratt Developments, which includes David Wilson Homes, said: “At David Wilson Homes, our vision is to encourage homeowners to make the most of their homes and communities by leading a sustainable, energy efficient and environmentally friendly way of life. Supporting the building of this new bus terminus at Cammo Meadows and the extension of the 41 bus route will provide a welcome boost to public transport and encourage residents to make less car journeys, helping to lower carbon emissions.

“Cammo Meadows is an extremely popular location among buyers, with plenty of outdoor space right on your doorstep and close links to the city centre. The new bus link will further heighten connectivity, with quick access to the city which will encourage residents to support their local shops and services.”

Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “I welcome the provision of the new terminus at Cammo as it will extend the sustainable public transport service in the local area, benefitting new and existing communities alike. This is a huge step in the right direction for this development, and I look forward to working with local Councillors on further improvements.

“I want to encourage people in all corners of our city to choose public transport for daily journeys and this kind of investment helps them take that step. Ensuring new developments are well connected to public and active transport routes is key to our response to the Climate Emergency.”

The Cammo Meadows development will include a range of detached and terraced homes and a collection of apartments of which 164 will be a mix of discounted sale, social rent and mid-market-rent properties.

It is estimated the development, which is expected to complete by Spring 2025, will contribute almost £220 million into the local economy and create 175 construction and supply chain jobs.

DM Hall’s Head of Rural Agency juggles study, work and family life successfully to secure RICS membership

Jennifer Campbell, Head of Rural Agency at DM Hall and a property professional with over 20 years’ experience, has shown it’s never too late to secure high-end professional qualifications by this month securing full membership of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Accepted just over a year ago onto the RICS Senior Professional Assessment (SPA) programme. Jennifer has just completed all her examination and assessment requirements and has been welcomed to the Institution by its interim Chief Executive, Richard Collins.

Said Jennifer: “this was one of the toughest challenges I have had to face and I am deeply grateful to my DM Hall colleagues at all levels who supported and encouraged me. I would like to especially thank my mentor, Laurence Neil in our Aberdeen office, who dedicates so much of his time to the DM Hall graduate programme.

“I hope my journey will be helpful to others in the property sector who are operating at a senior level with years of experience but have not ventured along the path of formal qualifications.

“The SPA programme is designed for that purpose and I would only say that you have to be mightily well organised, with exceptional family and child support to balance the rigours of full-time work and study squeezed into a single year!”

Senior Partner of DM Hall, Alan Gordon, said: “This is great news and many congratulations are due to Jennifer. I know it took a huge effort and was very challenging, so it really is a great credit to her to come through successfully with the MRICS qualification.

“Jennifer does a brilliant job as our Head of Rural Agency and we have always known that she would make a first-class chartered surveyor.”

A first-class BSc Honours graduate of Heriot Watt University, Jennifer has worked throughout the UK and in France in a varied and rewarding career in project management, business development and rural property.

Jennifer has worked in rural sales, land searches and for strategic development sites across Scotland for many years. She provides expertise on all aspects of rural property specialising in the whisky and farming sectors. She joined DM Hall in 2019 and is currently responsible for the agency department of Baird Lumsden, the firm’s rural arm.