The exceptional standard of our Bus and Coach engineering apprenticeship was highlighted at the Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE) Skills Challenge, when four of our apprentices brought home major awards.

IRTE is the specialist sector for road transport engineers within the Society of Operations Engineers (SOE) and the skills challenge is a national competition open to all public transport operators. Our ten-strong team of apprentices, who all work for First Bus, were challenged by fellow competitors from Arriva, Excel Resourcing, Go-Ahead, Lothian, Metroline, National Express and Trentbarton.

Our team, which comprised first, second and third year students including some from our Mechelec (mechanical electrical) and coach builder pathways, represented us in all categories and were tested under exam conditions which thoroughly challenged their practical and academic skills.

Third year student James Day won the Mechelec (mechanical electrical) category, Sophy Smith, also a third year, took first place in the Electrical Apprentice category, Hasan Girach was Runner Up Bodywork Apprentice and mature first year student Thang Tang was awarded the Judges’ Choice. Standards in all categories were judged to be extremely high.

Engineering Training Manager Simon Bishop, who accompanied the apprentices, said: “All team members performed extremely well and were incredible ambassadors for both First Bus and Reaseheath College. This was a high quality experience which enabled our apprentices to compete against peers from other leading companies and also to observe fully qualified technicians competing in the Master Technician category.”

The IRTE Skills Challenge was held at the S&B Training Academy in Bristol while the awards, viewed as a highlight of the year for the coach and bus sector, took place at the Jaguar Experience in Castle Bromwich. This was the 12th year of the event, but the first time Reaseheath apprentices had taken part.

Over 80 First Bus apprentices are currently on our bespoke apprenticeship training programme. The majority are engineering technicians specialising in mechanical and electrical engineering and coach building, while a smaller number are on a trade supplies route.

The apprentices receive tailored training at Reaseheath’s bespoke engineering apprentice academy on the Hurleston Business Park near to main campus.