Stagecoach marks National Apprenticeship Week with highest ever number of apprentices
By Sarah Wood
Stagecoach is marking National Apprenticeship Week this week by reaching its highest ever number of apprentices in employment.
The UK's largest bus and coach operator currently has over 1,000 apprentices being trained in a variety of roles, from driving and engineering to HR. The number beats last year's figure of 800 apprentices.
Stagecoach was the first public transport organisation to offer a flagship driver apprenticeship scheme, as well as an industry-leading engineering apprenticeship programme. It also offers a 'Trade-up' scheme, giving existing employees the opportunity to undertake an apprenticeship with the engineering team.
Amber King started on the 'Trade-up' scheme at the Gloucester depot in September 2021. She previously worked as a bus driver for four years, but wanted to move into engineering.
Amber said: "I have really enjoyed everything so far. I started the apprenticeship with a keen interest, but very little mechanical knowledge.
"I feel like I have learnt so much already and I really do get to learn something new every day. I am now able to carry out servicing tasks and minor repairs without help, and I'm really looking forward to gaining more knowledge and being able to confidently do more. It's great to see buses you've worked on out on the road."
The Stagecoach apprentices are from a range of diverse backgrounds and a mix of ages. Ralph Turtle, a 65-year-old driver at Worthing, completed his apprenticeship in 2021, having previously been a Flybe pilot, who was keen to continue his career in the transport industry.
Ralph said: "I love any mode of transport and meeting different people, so driving buses is the perfect job for me.
"To some people, it may seem a little strange starting an apprenticeship and a new career at the age of 65, but I've always been someone who loves to learn around my job.
"The apprenticeship has been a really enjoyable experience and the team have been fantastic in delivering the different elements. There's so much more to the apprenticeship than simply driving the bus, such as customer service, route planning and much more."
Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach chief executive, said: "Apprenticeships are critical to our future workforce and an area that Stagecoach has invested in for many years.
"As we mark National Apprenticeship Week, it's vital that we all play our part in helping the country to re-build and help people to kickstart their careers and our apprenticeship programmes offer something for everyone."
In November 2021, Stagecoach was awarded silver membership with the 5% Club for the number of employees in 'earn and learn' positions.
The 5% Club is a UK-wide charity that aims to contribute to the alleviation of poverty through increased levels of employment. It works with UK employers to inspire, educate and retain a growing body of people into 'earn and learn' placements to increase the number of apprenticeships, sponsored students and graduate trainees.
The number of employees in Stagecoach currently undergoing apprenticeships places it in the top five of the organisations participating in last year's Employer Audit. It was the only transport operator to be awarded silver membership in 2021.
Its commitment to training and development was highlighted further in its recently launched Sustainability Strategy, which details the objective of having 40 per cent females in leadership roles by 2026 and 25 per cent of the workforce from ethnic minorities. Stagecoach's commitment also includes offering more work placements for 16-24 year olds.
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