WORKPLACE LEARNING GIVES FIRST GLASGOW BUS DRIVER CONFIDENCE AND SKILLS TO SET UP COMMUNITY FOOTBALL TEAM
As part of Learning at Work Week 2020 (5th – 11th October), First Bus, one of the largest bus operators in the UK, is celebrating its 21 year lifelong learning partnership with Unite the Union by profiling the learning journeys of its drivers.
Believed to be the longest running workplace learning partnership of its nature, First Bus hosts 26 learning centres across the UK for its colleagues to access hundreds of accredited and informal courses in partnership with Unite. Courses range from those that directly support the roles and progression of First Bus colleagues, to wider ranging topics that include mental health and IT.
As well as helping employees develop skills that are directly related to their jobs, First Bus has recognised that the courses have played a valuable role in helping drivers integrate into their communities. For bus driver Brian Bongani-Tshuma, the use of the learning centre at Glasgow’s Caledonia depot meant that he improved his vocabulary, English writing and IT skills, which gave him the confidence to create a community football team, Fusion, to provide opportunities for young people from diverse backgrounds.
The support of the learning centre also gave Brian the confidence become a trained Community Sighted Guide to help his customers and as a result, he will be featured on a bus advertisement promoting the learning partnership between First Bus and Unite the Union.
Quote from Brian:
“When I first arrived in Scotland from Zimbabwe 17 years ago, my English wasn’t great, and I spent a lot of time with Unite representatives who worked with me to understand what support I needed. I worked with teachers at the depot a couple of days a week to increase my vocabulary, spelling and IT skills, and my confidence improved considerably.
“I feel a lot more able to communicate effectively and over time I have picked up the local Glaswegian lingo so that I can have a bit of banter with my customers - “Nae bother mate” is one of my favourite local phrases. My increased confidence has also encouraged me to think about how I can better help my customers, and this led to me becoming a trained Community Sighted Guide.
“Understanding how valuable the support and training has been to me, I set up a community football team to work with young people in my local area from diverse backgrounds. I learnt so many valuable skills through our learning centre and I wanted to do something which helps young people feel integrated into the local community. We’ve had some success in the lower leagues and are registered to the Scottish Unity League – it’s something which I’m incredibly proud of and is a result of the encouragement and support I’ve received from the learning partnership.
“In some ways I can’t believe how far I’ve come – from a shy young man with limited English to a confident bus driver with a community initiative of my own! It’s a testament to how important learning opportunities at work are and I’m thrilled to be recognised for Learning at Work Week.”
Mick Dowds, National Chair for Unite the Union in First Bus said:
“The lifelong learning partnership entered into by Unite the Union and First Bus is one of the most enduring within the road passenger transport sector. It has delivered educational opportunities, quality advice, guidance and support to tens of thousands of our work colleagues over the last 20 years. I believe it to be rare within the bus industry, indeed any industry, to hear of such a robust and continuous partnership. It is testament to the commitment of both the company and the union to ensure that learning is more than job related skills and is open to all our workers.”