Communications giant BT is boosting the East of England economy to the tune of £3.1bn and supporting 55,000 of the region's jobs, according to a report.
A study of the economic impact of BT Group plc in the UK by consultancy firm Hatch found that one in every 10 employees in the region's IT and communications sector were employed by the £22.9bn turnover company. It employs 8,560 people directly and a further 394 contractors.
Across the UK economy it generated more than £24bn in gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy during the last financial year.
It supports an estimated 54,700 full-time jobs in the East of England either directly or indirectly and spent £1.5bn with suppliers based in the region, including education, construction and telecommunications sectors.
It has named its research hub at Adastral Park, near Ipswich, as one of its key sites as it undergoes a consolidation and modernisation programme, moving from 300 sites to just 30 under its Better Workplace initiative.
In another boost to the region, it has already announced that it plans to recruit 78 apprentices at Adastral Park for its September 2021 intake including roles in cyber security and applied research.
At the same time, the group's network arm, Openreach, will create 295 full time engineering roles across the East of England this year.
Jane Thomas, BT Group regional lead for the East of England, said: “I’m immensely proud of the contribution our colleagues make in supporting the East of England economy.
"At an important time for our region, our spending on people, networks and suppliers, provides a vital economic boost.
"The wider impact of that spending helps to sustain communities and small businesses right across the region.
“In the past year, having good connectivity has become more important than ever as we’ve all had to work, learn, and spend more leisure time online."
Despite the challenges, the workforce had ensured EE’s 5G network has been extended to cover 125 towns and cities, including Ipswich, Brentwood and Watford, she said.
Openreach’s full-fibre networks now reach 4.1million premises and EE’s 4G network now reaches 85% of the UK, she added.
"I know these significant investments will help to underpin the country’s economic recovery post-Covid.”
Since its contact centres were brought back to the UK last year, more than 34m calls have been handled for BT, EE and Plusnet.
CBI East of England director Richard Tunnicliffe said the company was a "major" employer in the East of England and has a big impact on the economy and jobs.
"It’s good news to see this significant presence continuing," he added.
“BT Group’s investment in the region not only means a boost to local economies, but also to skills and high-quality jobs, including recruiting apprentices and graduates.
"BT’s investment in the fastest networks and latest technology is also vital for the country.
"Being connected is essential for our businesses, for boosting productivity and for improving quality of life in all our communities.”
The report found that BT Group spent £3.4bn on wages for its employees and contractors across the UK and £10bn with UK suppliers.
It also directly employed one in every 230 employees in the private sector across the UK, and one in every 12 in the IT and communications sector.
In all, the group directly created £1 in every £165 of GVA in the UK. It supported £1 in every £75 of GVA in the UK economy and one in every 90 employees working in the UK economy, the study found.
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