Leading bus operator launches this year’s apprenticeship programme

Besides patronage, one of the biggest post-pandemic issues for bus operators is staffing levels. Drivers and engineering staff have been affected by absences due to self-isolation and furloughing over the last fifteen months. For regular and not-so-regular bus passengers, getting the staffing levels right is a must, as any lapses in quality could result in passengers taking to their cars.

Stagecoach Manchester has launched its Bus Driver Apprenticeship programme for 2021. It is a 14-month programme of training which builds on their initial induction training to provide successful graduates with additional skills and insight into their roles as Stagecoach drivers. The scheme goes beyond the core competencies of safety, customer service and vehicle operation, equipping drivers with the knowledge to better serve passengers within their local communities. 

The scheme involves an initial three months off the job training, where apprentices will pass their PCV (bus) licence, complete vehicle familiarisation, learn all relevant routes and how to use the ticket machines, alongside core skills of safety and customer service. On successful completion of the first three months, apprentices will move to on-the-job training, which involves driving with one day per month day release on-going training. 

The scheme will provide successful graduates with a Level 2 Apprenticeship or Intermediate Apprenticeship, which is the equivalent of getting five GCSEs up to Grade C (or Grades 9 to 4 under the new marking system). 

Career change

Wendy commented: “After spending so long working in an office, I knew I wanted something completely different.  

“I love driving my bus. I pick the children up for school and I always say ‘good morning’ and a lot of the children are now used to my friendly face and will return the ‘good morning’ even when they are half asleep. I enjoy the conversations that some children have with me, telling me about their day before I drive them home.

The apprenticeship offered my cohort the chance to discuss and realise how others would handle situations. It opened our eyes to things that you would possibly be looking at every day but not seeing, and we were able to swap information and stories – we all compared notes on our experiences in driving buses! The apprenticeship has really helped to develop me further, and has definitely made me a more confident driver.

Lee Wasnidge, Managing Director of Stagecoach Manchester, also commented: “We are thrilled to announce our new Bus Driver Apprenticeship, aiming to develop confident and capable bus drivers who are equipped to serve the community. 

We offer our new recruits a stable job with guaranteed hours, planning shift work well in advance to help our drivers manage their time and ensure a healthy work-life balance. All of the Stagecoach Manchester team offer Wendy their congratulations, and we commend her on all her hard work and commitment!

An EM60 Presentation, 24 June 2021.

Image courtesy of Tangerine PR Ltd.

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