MORE than 1.5bn is to be invested in boosting the fibre broadband network across Scottish cities, creating thousands of jobs.

Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness and Stirling are set to benefit from the new scheme announced today by CityFibre, one of the UK’s largest national digital infrastructure companies.

Stirling will also become one of the country’s first ‘Gigabit cities’ - a city with an entirely fibre network, which not only increases the speed of internet connections but makes it more stable than normal broadband.

The firm will spent more than £1.5bn upgrading the broadband capabilities of the six cities, and plan to create jobs for skilled and unskilled workers over three years. Across the whole of the UK, around 10,000 people are set to be employed as part of the programme, with upgrades taking place in 100 towns and cities.

The jobs are to be targeted specifically at service-leavers and the unemployed, with women and people from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds (BAME) set to benefit from the work created by the firm and contractors involved in the project.

It comes after the UK Government made the nationwide deployment of full fibre broadband by 2025 a key target.

The aim is to see 15 million premises connected to full fibre by 2025, with coverage across all parts of the country by 2033. Ministers also hope the majority of the population will have 5G coverage by 2027

Experts have previously said the provision of stable and fast internet across the country is essential to ensure a faster economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, with the latest figures predicting the UK will be one of the hardest hit countries as a result of the virus.

National income could shrink by as much as 11.5% by the end of this year, according to estimates.

Steve Holliday, Chairman at CityFibre said: “We’re delighted to launch our training and recruitment programme creating up to 10,000 jobs in such a critical and vibrant sector. The programme will reach deep into our society to include some of those most in need of opportunity.

“Ultimately, it will ensure the skilled workforce is in place to get the job done and at the same time provide up-skilling and well-paid jobs across more than 100 towns and cities.

“In the wake of the Coronavirus, delivering the Government’s target of full fibre nationwide by 2025 could not be more important. Of all the infrastructure projects and industrial policies under consideration, full fibre will have the biggest impact in the shortest time, and for the least public money.

“It will help ensure that the UK not only recovers economically, but that it swiftly transitions to a greener, smarter and fairer economy in which to thrive.”

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Our £5bn commitment to bring faster, gigabit-speed internet to the whole country is key to ensuring everyone is better connected, creating jobs and powering the UK’s economic recovery from coronavirus.

“We’re working closely with firms like CityFibre and I warmly welcome their commitment to building a highly-skilled and diverse telecoms workforce which will boost growth right across the UK.”

CityFibre plans to work with the DWP, the Construction Industry Training Board and the Career Transition Partnership as well as groups like the Women’s Engineering Society to encourage people to apply for a place on the training scheme.