A new initiative has been launched to train 400 new bus drivers in West Yorkshire – and the classroom training centre is based in Huddersfield town centre.
Realise, one of the UK’s leading training providers, has been appointed to run the ‘Route to Success’ programme by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to significantly bolster the number of bus drivers in the region to help protect services.
The training centre has been opened in the Packhorse Centre in Huddersfield and the first batch of trainees graduated in August.
Residents of Kirklees, Calderdale, Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield who are over the age of 19 are eligible to sign up to the programme and pursue a new career as a bus driver.
Championed by the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, it is the first-of-its-kind contract for West Yorkshire Combined Authority – and the first ever Adult Education Budget contract commissioned by the Responsiveness Fund in West Yorkshire.
It is hoped the scheme will provide a regional solution to the nationwide bus driver shortage which has gripped the industry in recent years.
Kairon Flowers, head of transport at Realise, said: “Just like with HGV drivers, there has been a growing issue in terms of having enough bus drivers to meet demand.
“The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has recognised that and are taking steps to ensure the long-term provision of bus travel within the region remains strong.
“This training programme also offers individuals seeking a fresh challenge a fantastic opportunity to embark on a new career path.”
More than 400 people will be given access to an innovative myth-busting course to gain insight into a bus driver’s day. Around 19% of those who complete stage 1 will be supported by a further SME training programme.
Candidates will complete a fully-funded theory course and then will have two options: either enrol onto one of Realise’s 75 fully-funded driver training places to access SME bus companies, or progress to employment with a large operator in the area.
The theory course can be completed flexibly over six-sessions, including over evenings and weekends to allow people the opportunity to access the bus driving industry from other careers, including retail or hospitality.
Anyone completing the course can expect to secure a Passenger Carrying Vehicle Licence (PCV) no more than six weeks after starting the programme and will be guaranteed an interview with a local bus provider.
Kairon added: “Many of the learners who complete this course will work for SMEs and enjoy a fantastic career.
“Bus drivers can expect 38-hour guaranteed contracts and job security. For many people, it is an excellent opportunity to move away from the uncertainty of zero-hour contacts.
“We are looking for expressions of interest from as many people as possible and we will be launching a major promotion of this opportunity right across West Yorkshire.
“We have a dedicated training bus to support our activity and this will be used for some of the classroom sessions, as well as to carry out part of the practical elements of driving a bus.”
To apply visit www.routetosuccess.co.uk.