Bus company Go North East has invested heavily in apprentices and a new apprenticeship programme in an effort to tackle a chronic skills shortage in its industry.
The firm, which is the third largest employer in the region, has formed a new partnership with Gateshead College and taken on its largest intake of apprentices in many years. The move intends to address its struggle to recruit engineers with the right skills and prepare for replacing its ageing workforce.
Nine budding mechanical and electrical engineers and coach builders have joined the company and will be learning on the job for the next four years at its eight depots.
The apprentices will be trained locally at Gateshead College on a brand new apprenticeship course designed especially for Go North East. The company’s trainees were previously trained at Coventry College but will now hone their skills at the Skills Academy for Automotive, Engineering, Manufacturing and Logistics on the Team Valley.
Go North East’s chief engineer, Kirk Trewin, said: “We spend a lot of money recruiting and training up engineers from other industries because there are not enough bus engineers out there. We also have a responsibility to the industry to introduce as many apprentices as we can.
“We have been heavily involved in developing this new apprenticeship programme to enable us to produce apprentices of a higher calibre with the skills to be even more effective in the workplace. The trainees will be taught to our exact specification. I feel that partnering with a college closer to home was an important move so that we are also supporting the local economy.”
The new apprentices will, for the first time, be multi-disciplined. This means as well as becoming a recognised craftsman in their main trade, they will also be trained to Level 2 in another discipline, for example, an electrician will also receive mechanical training and vice versa.
To support the apprentices’ training, Go North East has donated a bus to Gateshead College which will be used as a learning aid.
Paul Gough, strategic leader, business growth and employer engagement at Gateshead College said: “We are working to equip the region’s future workforce with highly skilled apprentices who benefit from expert training and real world experience of the workplace.
“This includes working with some of the country’s top businesses, like Go North East, to ensure apprentices get a great head start while delivering tailor made programmes that give employers the skills they need to be competitive and get ahead.
“As an influential training provider, we recognise that there are skills shortages in certain sectors of engineering. We are actively encouraging many young people to take up apprenticeships in these areas as pathways to successful and fulfilling careers.”
In the north east, Gateshead College is working with several employers such as Aldi, Nissan, SCA and G4S to create opportunities through apprenticeships and other vocational training packages, which are adapted and tailored specifically to companies’ business needs.
This ensures that, from day one, new recruits are equipped with skills and aptitudes that are needed by their employer to make the business more competitive.