Senior directors of First Bus celebrated National Apprenticeship Week by visiting company apprentices who are training on next generation zero emission vehicles at Reaseheath’s industry leading Bus and Coach engineering academy.

First Bus has partnered Reaseheath in creating the purpose built national centre and has exclusive use of the facility for training its apprentices. The apprenticeship programme is tailored to meet the operator’s needs in its transition to a zero-carbon fleet.

The first 22-strong cohort of First Bus apprentices, which includes two females, are mid way through the first year of their three year training programme. The apprentices are aged 16-30 and most are studying on a Level 3 Bus and Coach Engineering apprenticeship, with two following a Level 3 Trade Supplier route.

First Bus Engineering Director Ian Warr and Chief People Officer Kevin Green toured the training facility and watched apprentices demonstrate their skills and technical development in workshops housing transport vehicles donated by First Bus. These include a hybrid electric bus and a specially converted engineering training bus fitted out with the latest electronic and diagnostic testing equipment. They also visited the dedicated classroom and on-site restaurant.

Ian Warr said: “Seeing the academy in live operation has been fantastic after the collective effort by our team and the college to get this set up.

“We’ve been determined to make sure access to vehicles and equipment for technical skills development matches the superb study environment here to give our apprentices the best start to their training and careers.”

Kevin Green added: “The theme of National Apprenticeship Week, ‘build the future’, is perfectly demonstrated at this academy. Zero-emission engine technologies are evolving rapidly as First Bus invests in greener fleets to reduce carbon and improve air quality. It’s vitally important that we upskill our apprentices to build a pipeline of highly talented bus engineers with the right knowledge to maintain the next generation of buses.”

Reaseheath has invested £50,000 in top-of-the-range equipment within a work style environment to instil a workplace mindset among apprentices and maintain a seamless switch from depot to learning.

The new engineering academy has broken the mould of traditional apprenticeships with the introduction of a 12-week block release, which is double the college time of previous programmes. Trainees attend for four, three week residential visits each year. Engineering directors and managers from First Bus have had direct input into the course content and delivery, a contribution not possible with previous programmes.

Reaseheath’s  Curriculum Area Manager for Engineering Apprentices, Katie Whiteman, said: “We have been delighted to welcome directors from First Bus to see first hand the practical and theoretical training which their apprentices are receiving.

“Their visit during National Apprenticeship Week has been particularly apt, as it has given us a real opportunity to turn the spotlight on training advancements for apprentices within the transport sector. We are very proud of the positive way this two-way alliance is developing, as it gives the apprentices the best possible start to their careers and is also helping the government’s drive towards a carbon neutral future.”

Kevin Green and Ian Warr also met with Reaseheath College’s Executive team including Principal and CEO Marcus Clinton and Assistant Principal of Apprenticeships and Business Hub, Sharon Yates, to discuss progress and potential for continued enhancement to the facilities and course content.

Click the following links to hear from our apprentices: Liam Blyth and Maddi Simmons