Stagecoach, the UK’s largest bus and coach operator, is marking National Apprentice Week 2022 which runs next week (7 to 11 February) by reaching the milestone of having its highest ever number of apprentices currently employed.
The company currently has over 1000 apprentices being trained on a variety of roles, from driving and engineering to HR and learning and development apprentice qualifications, which is the most the group has had at any one time, beating last year’s figure of 800.
And at Stagecoach, the team of 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.”
Stagecoach was also 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.
Pictured is Amber King who started in September 2021 at Gloucester depot on Stagecoach’s ‘Trade-up’ scheme. Amber was previously 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 carrying 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.”
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 kick start their careers and our apprenticeship programmes offer something for everyone. Those who are joining the world of work and looking to start their careers, providing opportunities for people internally such as Amber to progress into a new area, and offering others, like Ralph, the chance to change their career and learn new skills regardless of their background or experience.
“As the UK’s biggest bus, coach and tram operator, apprenticeships bring huge value to our business in terms of talent and diversity. We have been at the forefront of championing apprentices in our workforce for many years and it is great that we now have over 1000 apprentices across our companies in England, Scotland and Wales. As well as ensuring that our workforce represents the communities we serve, apprenticeships provide opportunities for internal development and succession planning.”
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 them in the top five of the organisations participating in last year’s Employer Audit and were the only transport operator to been awarded silver membership in 2021.
Its commitment to training and development was highlighted further in their recently launched Sustainability Strategy which details its objective of having 40% females in leadership roles by 2026 and 25% of their workforce from ethnic minorities. Stagecoach’s commitment also includes offering more work placements for 16-24 year olds.