Full-fibre could create 1.2 million skilled jobs by 2025

Cebr claims technology will "be a key feature of the UK's recovery" from the pandemic

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) forecasts that technology will “be a key feature of the [UK’s] recovery” from the economic effects of the pandemic and that implementing full-fibre will create an additional 1.2 million skilled jobs by 2025.

The report, titled “Using Digital to Revive the UK”, also claims the rollout of a full-fibre network will see the proportion of people working from home in England and Wales rise to 25% once the pandemic is over. 

Cebr’s current survey data shows that, under the coronavirus lockdown, 45-50% of the labour force is working from home. By 2025, the economic consultancy claims that there might be “about a quarter of the workforce working from home on any day”.

Cebr deputy chairman Douglas McWilliams suggested that “a more online economy”, with 25% of the workforce working remotely thanks to a full-fibre network, “would certainly boost the Flat White Economy”.

“We estimate that this would cause the Flat White Economy to grow from £240 billion in 2019 to £430 billion in 2025, rising from 12.2% of GVA to 17.8%. Conservatively this could generate 1.2 million new jobs in the sector and around double that number in total once knock-on effects are taken into account,” he said.

McWilliams added that “the key policy questions are how best to make sure that this happens and how best to see that the gains are spread around the country”.

“Obviously the investment in a full-fibre broadband network is part of a solution, including the sums already committed to subsidise the extension to hard to reach areas.”

A Cebr report from October 2019, which was commissioned by Openreach, found that implementing a full-fibre network across the UK would let an additional million people work from home, while over 270,000 would be able to leave major cities such as London for more suburban and rural areas. The report also predicted that more than 43,000 more people would choose to move “up North”, due to the significant boosts in residential levels in the northern non-metropolitan areas.

The forecasts come weeks after a report by Assembly Research claimed that if the UK sticks to its pledge to make the country fully 5G and full-fibre connected by 2025, this could provide a £51.4bn boost to the economy in the next five years, and a £68.8bn boost by 2030.

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