Reaseheath College welcomed Roads and Local Transport Minister Richard Holden MP onto campus during National Apprenticeship Week (February 6 – 12) to see the progress of the UK’s first dedicated Bus and Coach Engineering Academy.

The academy is the result of an innovative and forward-thinking partnership between Reaseheath and First Bus. As well as delivering in-demand skills training in green technology to the company’s apprentices, it also creates a clear pathway for future talent to progress into the industry.

First Bus apprentice engineering technicians receive tailored training on both current and next generation zero emission vehicles at Reaseheath’s bespoke engineering apprentice academy on the Hurleston Business Park near to the main campus in Nantwich.

The college has invested over £50,000 into state-of-the-art training equipment at the site and First Bus has further invested by equipping the purpose-built, heavy engineering workshops with hybrid electric training buses and other training tools. A workplace style environment ensures a seamless switch between depot and college learning.

Eighty-two apprentices are currently on the programme, with the majority specialising in mechanical and electrical engineering and coach building and a small number in trade supplies. The apprentices attend Reaseheath for four training blocks each year and are being taught by a team of tutors and skills coaches, specially recruited for their experience in the bus and coach sector.

Richard Holden MP toured the academy with First Bus Chief Operating Officer Andrew Jarvis, First Bus Head of Engineering Excellence Tony Cockcroft and Marcus Clinton, Principal and Chief Executive of Reaseheath College.

He clearly enjoyed engaging with First Bus apprentices and was keen to champion  the emerging technology around the use of clean green energy within the transport industry.

The Roads Minister said: “Driving good skilled jobs across engineering and science and discovering new-age technologies to tackle pollution go hand in hand.

“Apprenticeships are at the heart of the Government’s mission to boost skills and employment and it has been brilliant to see this great partnership between First Bus and Reaseheath College paving the way for exciting careers in a zero-emission bus future.”

Andrew Jarvis commented: “The creation of the purpose built facility at Reaseheath College has been a game-changer for our apprenticeship programme.

“It has been a concentrated collective effort by our Local Business Units countrywide to ensure our apprentices have the best start to their training, and the partnership with the team at Reaseheath College has been a huge part of this process.

“We’ve been determined to ensure access to vehicles and equipment for technical skills development are best-in-class and the programme is industry leading in the way it recreates a realistic depot environment for our apprentices.

“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 build a pipeline of highly skilled engineers with the right knowledge to maintain the current and next generation of buses to help futureproof our business.”

Marcus Clinton said: “We were delighted to welcome the Minister here today as it gave us the opportunity to show off the unique apprenticeship programme which we deliver in partnership with First Bus.

“By working closely with First Bus we have been able to shape a relevant curriculum delivering a first-class combination of technical and employability skills which meet the specific needs of the company and also guarantees jobs for the apprentices.

“This very successful model puts First Bus firmly in the driving seat and demonstrates the very best example of an educational institution working in unity with an industry partner.

“Reaseheath is well known for this type of co-operative partnership and this leading-edge approach is certainly something to celebrate during National Apprenticeship Week.”

For more about the bus and coach apprenticeship at Reaseheath

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