Stagecoach is to recruit 600 extra apprentices during 2020, the company announced today.
Britain’s biggest bus and coach operator made the pledge as it marks National Apprenticeship Week in England, which runs until 9 February.
Stagecoach currently employs a total of around 550 driver and engineering apprentices across its operations in England, Scotland and Wales.
By the end of 2020, Stagecoach will employ around 1,000 driver apprentices and around 200 engineering apprentices.
The huge expansion of apprenticeships will see the company more than double the number of learners employed over the next 10 months.
Stagecoach Chief Executive Martin Griffiths said: “Our people are fundamental to ensuring we keep communities across the country connected. We are proud to lead the bus and coach industry by investing in apprenticeships and creating 600 new learner opportunities in 2020.
“Apprenticeships bring huge value to our business in terms of talent and diversity. Whether you’re a school leaver or somebody who wants a change of career, an apprenticeship programme is a great opportunity to earn while you learn and kickstart your career in the transport industry.”
Stagecoach is already the industry leader in bus driver apprenticeships and the only bus and coach operator to have a programme across all of its 14 operating companies in England.
The 12-month programme provides a combination of practical training and off-the-job learning. It is delivered in partnership with training supplier Interserve Learning & Employment, complementing Stagecoach’s high standards around safety and customer service.
A total of 34 Stagecoach employees have gained their driver apprenticeship to date, with a further 100 expected to have completed the programme by the summer. They are the first in the country to have achieved the qualification.
Caroline Crozier, a former school teaching assistant from Newcastle, who joined Stagecoach in Walkergate depot in March 2018, is among the first to have completed the bus driver apprenticeship.
She said: “I wanted a complete change of career and the bus driver apprenticeship programme with Stagecoach came up as an opportunity. It’s a great programme, you get support from your peers and assessors all the way through which is really helpful, and the on-the-job learning really helps you get to grips with everything easily and quickly.
“Our apprenticeship team was like a little community and I regularly see drivers who were on the programme with me and give them a nod to say hello. I really enjoy being a bus driver and would recommend the apprenticeship and a bus driving career to anybody. One of the highlights of my day is seeing some of my regular passengers, including a lovely chap who brings me a newspaper every day!”
Stagecoach’s engineering apprenticeship programme has run for more than 15 years, with a number of employees having gone on to develop their careers with the business.
Jemma Wood started at Stagecoach in 2011 as a mechanical apprentice in Peterborough with no knowledge of mechanics. On qualifying, Jemma became a vehicle inspector in Cambridge depot. In 2019, Jemma – one of Stagecoach’s Everywoman in Transport and Logistics Apprentice of the Year finalists – was promoted to Deputy Engineering Manager at Fenstanton depot.
She said: “It was never in my original plan to become an engineer – as a child, I wasn’t really interested in mechanics or engineering, I much preferred my Barbie dolls. In 2011, I was working in a big supermarket and not very happy with how things were going, and on the bus home from work, I saw the apprenticeship programme advertised and thought I’d give it a go.
“I really enjoyed the programme and would always advise people to go through an apprenticeship course, you can get your qualification whilst earning a decent wage and learn on the job at the same time. I’d been to college and tried other things but an apprenticeship scheme was definitely the way for me.
“As an added bonus, I also met my husband whilst on the apprenticeship course, who works in a different part of Stagecoach, and in June we’ll be having our first child together so it definitely changed my life when I joined the apprenticeship programme!”