First Bus highlights importance of apprentices for future of the industry
First Bus has made a commitment to support the Government’s 2020 vision to help increase the quality and quantity of apprenticeships within the bus industry and is urging other operators to do the same.
The First Bus Apprenticeship Programme was launched in May 2017 and since then the programme has provided the business with a renewed focus; ensuring it has a national standard for apprenticeships across the UK. The business has strategically focussed on recruiting engineering apprentices so far, with an aim to focus on other areas within the business over the coming years.
The business has been working with technical experts, providers and group resourcing to help improve the timelines, offer and delivery of the new engineering standard for new recruits coming into the business. There are 116 engineering apprentices currently on the programme, with 48 new recruits joining the business in Autumn 2018.
Speaking about the investment in apprenticeships for the bus industry, Janet Francis, Apprenticeships and Qualifications Manager, said: “Apprentices are an integral part of the business and our aim is to deliver a national standard for apprenticeships across the UK. We run four engineering apprenticeships; Mechelec Technician, Electrical Technician, Parts Technician and Body Repair Technician. The three -year programme provides apprentices with skills, knowledge and technical expertise by allowing them to work across the entire First Bus fleet; including inspection, servicing, fault diagnosis and repair. We’re continually looking at innovative ways to cross skill all apprentices, so that they are fully capable to deal with all aspects of bus engineering.
“We also recognise that technology is evolving and we therefore need to ensure that our existing workforce of engineers have the skills that will be needed in the future. We have therefore utilised the Apprentice Levy to provide further training to our existing engineers. The return on investment will not only improve the lives of our colleagues, but will also have a positive impact on the customers we serve and the reliability of our services.”
Representatives from First Bus have also been actively involved in the Apprenticeship Employer Trailblazer Groups; ensuring the new standards being developed are relevant to the bus industry, as well as working with departments from across the business to actively recruit apprentices.