Bus operator expands apprenticeship programme


A north east bus operator is creating eight new apprentice posts in an expansion of its engineering training programme which is delivered in partnership with Gateshead College.

Go North East, which is the region’s third largest employer, has announced the new jobs following the success of its recently-launched apprenticeship scheme which was designed specifically for the bus firm.

The programme was launched in September 2014 to address Go North East’s struggles to recruit engineers with the right skills and prepare for replacing its ageing workforce. Eleven apprentices are currently on the course and the new places will bring the intake up to 24 trainees with four apprentices maturing in September 2015. 

The eight new apprenticeship positions are for body repair, mechanical and electrical engineers. After completing the four-year programme the apprentices secure permanent full-time jobs at one of the company’s eight depots and gain a Transport Engineering Maintenance and Technical Certificate.

Recruitment is already underway via the National Apprenticeship Vacancy Matching Service (NAVMS) and existing students at Gateshead College’s Skills Academy for Automotive, Engineering, Manufacturing and Logistics will also be encouraged to apply.

Go North East’s Chief Engineer, Kirk Trewin, said that through collaborative partnerships like this Go North East and the wider passenger transport sector can secure the skills to ensure that it remains competitive for decades to come.  

He added: “We are investing significantly to modernise our bus fleet but it is just as important to maintain and reinvigorate our workforce with new talent.

“This is why we have made the commitment to new apprentices and working with an expert training partner in Gateshead College.

“We want to guarantee engineering skills and expertise are not lost as people retire, ensuring that we are able to continue to provide the best service for the hundreds of thousands of passengers who rely on our services.”

Although primarily aimed at 16 to 18 year olds, the apprenticeship will be open to anyone, who has gained or is expected to achieve four GCSEs at grade A to C or equivalent including English, Maths and Science, and will see learners with an annual salary of £8,400.

Chris Toon, Deputy Principal at Gateshead College, said: “An apprenticeship is a fantastic way to build a career by gaining skills and training while receiving a regular wage. 

“The opportunity to join this scheme is good news for anyone looking for an interesting career offering new challenges every day. We’re delighted to be working with Go North East on this project.” 

“The college is committed to apprenticeships and this is another great example of how we partner closely with North East employers to deliver the qualifications and training they want.” 

Go North East has provided a bus which is used by the apprentices at the Academy for training purposes.

Go North East has a history of employing apprentices but is more than doubling the size of its existing programme to ensure that vital skills are retained. 

Gateshead College is one of the region’s leading providers of apprenticeships and is already working as a strategic partner to Go North East delivering training alongside bus driver recruitment support. 

Learners on the apprenticeship programme will spend their first year on  day  release within the college’s Team Valley Skills Academy as well as receiving training in the workplace, and English, Maths and IT skills.

In the second and third years, they will continue their studies through day release at college, building on the engineering principles gained in the first year and equipping them with advanced technical skills as they work towards their NVQ Level 3 qualification.

In addition to the NVQ Level  3, each apprentice will be subjected to an additional 4th year of learning to give increased knowledge of Electrical systems if mechanically biased and vice versa. This will also be formalised with each apprentice gaining an IRTEC Level II Qualification which is the new industry recognised ‘licensing’ system’ to recognise skills levels for professional engineers in the PCV/HGV industry.