ONLINE training courses in Bolton are helping to keep the nation's broadband service ticking over.

An investment by Openreach at their centres, like their sprawling site in Breightmet, has seen learning move to the web. More than 35 courses are on offer to keep engineers skills up-to-date.

Their Bolton site can see 6,000 trainees and more experienced hands through the doors annually but lockdown has led to a revised operation.

Bosses say this number has halved as social distancing has reduced capacity at the school and made traditional classroom learning more difficult.

This has resulted in a newly-created virtual learning programme with 35 bite-sized modules, delivered from dedicated broadcast facilities created within each of the training centres.

Mark Rainbow, a senior learning manager, said: "We’ve had to adapt and re-think how we do things during the last 12 months. Training is a fundamental part of our business, from the obvious learning new skills angle, but also keeping our people safe by making sure they’re able to access vital health and safety material.

“We’ve got 11 training centres across the UK. Here in Bolton, we’d normally see around 6,000 people train here every year – a total of more than 9,000 learner days - and they’d be spread across the site including our 13 teaching rooms, two pole training fields and our mock-up street including houses, flats as well as overhead and underground networks.

“Whilst we had to reduce this capacity, we’ve worked hard to deliver sessions like first aid training and driver theory completely online. Many other courses are now split between in-person and online learning and it’s probably improved the way we’ll deliver training in the future, which is one positive to come from all of this.”