Transdev 25.10.23

Yorkshire bus firm’s skills drive to beat UK’s engineer shortage

Transdev joins leading apprenticeships provider to unveil new ‘SkillUp’ programme to keep its wheels turning across the North.

Introducing SkillUp – a pioneering joint initiative to tackle the UK’s shortage of expert engineers by attracting newcomers and career switchers into the workshops.

Yorkshire-based bus operator Transdev is spearheading the drive to give more of its people, including those switching from other roles, the industry standard qualification they need to build a successful career in its workshops.

The bus firm is working with Total People, one of the North’s leading apprenticeships providers, to expand its skills offer beyond those leaving school or college to encourage those already in other roles – including bus drivers – to retrain as a qualified engineer.

It’s hoped the new engineers will lead Transdev’s evolving drive towards electric power, by gaining specialist knowledge needed to maintain the latest battery-powered buses.

SkillUp is also offering semi-skilled people who already have workshop experience the opportunity to complete a fast-track one year course to boost their knowledge and skills.

Andrew Fleming has been a qualified bus driver since 2005, switching from a retail job to work on York’s city buses before retraining at university in East Anglia to become a teacher, while continuing to drive part-time for a local firm.

Andrew says: “I wasn’t enjoying teaching, and so I returned to York in 2016, and then to Coastliner in Malton where I am today. I’ve always been interested in science, and fascinated by the way things work, so I jumped at the chance to add to the knowledge I have by training for a Level 3 NVQ in mechanical and electrical engineering.

“I feel valued as part of Transdev’s team – I’m someone who they clearly want to keep and look after by giving me a chance to make a positive career change without having to leave the company and potentially, the bus industry.”

Harrogate-based Owen Baxter is already on a journey to success as a Mechelec Engineering Apprentice, covering mechanical and electrical skills, plus spotting and solving complex fault challenges as an apprentice mechanic. A year ago he won Apprentice of the Year in the town’s Business Excellence Awards, and as year three of his four-year apprenticeship begins, he has no regrets about choosing an engineering career.

Owen says: “The joy of it for me is in fault finding – the ability to look at something that doesn’t work, find the cause, and fix it. I love that feeling of achievement when you return a bus to the road, and I’m lucky to be learning from the best in the business.

“Everyone here specialises in a particular area, including electrical, mechanical and bodywork. That means I’m getting wide experience in an apprenticeship leading to an exciting future, just as we prepare to switch over to 100 per cent electric bus operation.”

Total People Managing Director Mel Nicholson comments: “We were really excited when we first started to discuss the SkillUp scheme with Transdev. Having trained many of their engineers at our industry-standard facility in Wythenshawe, we already know how

passionate they are about developing their employees to become the next generation of engineers.

“This is a really exciting opportunity. Not only can we start people off on their new career in automotive engineering, we also get to help those already in the industry to take the next step in their careers.

“We can’t wait to see all the new faces, and maybe some familiar ones!”

Transdev Operations Director Vitto Pizzuti is delighted by the positive response to the bus firm’s SkillUp launch. Vitto says: “The shortage of fully trained engineers is currently affecting the whole UK transport industry, not just bus operators.

“As we head towards an electric future, promising trainee engineers are going to be vital on our road ahead. The new technology is exciting but it can be complex – that’s why we need adaptable people with a passion for electronics as well as mechanical engineering.

“Colleagues who switch from another role such as driving to join SkillUp will remain on their current pay rate throughout their qualification period, before progressing to our engineering rates – among the best in the bus industry – once fully qualified. It’s another way we’re showing our commitment to retaining and developing our people.”

Working with Total People, Transdev’s trainees will study health and safety, workshop housekeeping, materials and tools and diagnosis of electrical, engine and chassis faults.

Full details of opportunities at Transdev’s operating centres in Yorkshire, and also in the North West, are available online at: