Yorkshire based bus firm Transdev, which operates bus companies including York & County, Coastliner and the Harrogate Bus Company, is hoping to combat skills shortages with a new training scheme.
Transdev is working with Total People, one of the North’s leading apprenticeships providers, to expand its skills offer beyond those leaving school or college to encourage those already in other roles – including bus drivers – to retrain as a qualified engineer.
The aim is the new engineers will lead Transdev’s evolving drive towards electric power, by gaining specialist knowledge needed to maintain the latest battery-powered buses.
SkillUp is also offering semi-skilled people who already have workshop experience the opportunity to complete a fast-track one year course to boost their knowledge and skills.
Andrew Fleming has been a qualified bus driver since 2005, switching from a retail job to work on York’s city buses before retraining at university in East Anglia to become a teacher, while continuing to drive part-time for a local firm.
Andrew said: “I wasn’t enjoying teaching, and so I returned to York in 2016, and then to Coastliner in Malton where I am today. I’ve always been interested in science, and fascinated by the way things work, so I jumped at the chance to add to the knowledge I have by training for a Level 3 NVQ in mechanical and electrical engineering.
“I feel valued as part of Transdev’s team – I’m someone who they clearly want to keep and look after by giving me a chance to make a positive career change without having to leave the company and potentially, the bus industry.”
Harrogate-based Owen Baxter is a Mechelec Engineering Apprentice, covering mechanical and electrical skills, plus spotting and solving complex fault challenges as an apprentice mechanic.
Owen said: “Everyone here specialises in a particular area, including electrical, mechanical and bodywork. That means I’m getting wide experience in an apprenticeship leading to an exciting future, just as we prepare to switch over to 100 per cent electric bus operation.”
Transdev Operations Director Vitto Pizzuti said: “The shortage of fully trained engineers is currently affecting the whole UK transport industry, not just bus operators.
“As we head towards an electric future, promising trainee engineers are going to be vital on our road ahead. The new technology is exciting but it can be complex – that’s why we need adaptable people with a passion for electronics as well as mechanical engineering.
“Colleagues who switch from another role such as driving to join SkillUp will remain on their current pay rate throughout their qualification period, before progressing to our engineering rates – among the best in the bus industry – once fully qualified.”
Working with Total People, Transdev’s trainees will study health and safety, workshop housekeeping, materials and tools and diagnosis of electrical, engine and chassis faults.