More than 200 trainee engineers will be hired across the West Midlands as part of the largest recruitment drive ever undertaken by telecoms company Openreach.

The announcement follows news that Openreach, which is part of BT and maintains telephone networks, is to accelerate plans to build more ultrafast fibre broadband across the country.

There will be 79 roles available in Birmingham and the Black Country as part of 200 in total across the wider West Midlands and 3,500 in the UK over the next 12 months.

Openreach has also announced plans to invest around £100,000 over the next year developing a new fibre engineering academy at its training centre, near Stone, in Staffordshire.

The company is running a programme called Fibre First which is aiming to deliver so-called 'fibre to the premises' services in up to 40 locations with the eventual aim of making it available in ten million British premises by the mid-2020s.

The rollout will commence in Birmingham and seven other UK cities.

Chief executive Clive Selley said: "These trainee engineers will be playing a vital role in the future success and prosperity of the UK.

The rollout of 5G internet is coming and the Midlands is one of the test areas

"We are already investing in upskilling our engineering team and this announcement of new jobs, including 79 in Birmingham and the Black Country, underlines our commitment to make our Fibre First programme a reality - future-proofing Britain's broadband network and supporting emerging mobile technologies like 5G."

Richard Hall, infrastructure delivery director for Openreach in the West Midlands, added: "This latest recruitment represents a further major investment in the West Midlands.

"It's very exciting news for our region."