Go-Ahead has set a target to hire 1,100 bus and rail apprentices in 2022. It is encouraging applicants from all ages and career backgrounds.
The announcement comes in advance of National Apprenticeship Week, a government-led initiative that highlights the positive impact of apprenticeships across the UK.
The group is the biggest provider of apprentice training in the transport industry, hiring 50 apprentice bus drivers per week in London alone in 2021. Last year, Go-Ahead hired 1,030 apprentices in total.
In addition to school leavers, the group takes on apprentices of all ages, including many career switchers who are seeking a new start in transport.
Applicants from diverse backgrounds have surged during the pandemic as economic conditions have changed, and many people have reassessed their lifestyles.
After 15 years in financial management positions, Mitesh Patel started his train driving apprenticeship in 2020. He wanted a better work-life balance than an office environment, when he never felt he could switch off at the end of the day.
Meanwhile, bus driver apprentice Rachael Ayegba switched from professional football to bus driving in 2021. She is believed to be the first female London bus driver to have played in the World Cup.
This success comes during a time in which apprenticeship starts have been falling nationwide. A 2021 government report indicates that apprenticeship starts are at their lowest levels in ten years. There was a 20% drop in apprenticeship starts between 2018/2019 and 2020/2021.
Susanna Dillon, Head of Apprenticeships at Go-Ahead said: “At Go-Ahead, we’ve invested so much time and energy into our award-winning apprenticeship programme – and for good reason. Apprenticeships are vital for helping the communities we serve and for bringing fresh ideas and viewpoints into the transport sector.”
“We’re also seeing real benefits to the programme. We’ve found that since we launched our in-house apprenticeship scheme in London in 2018, we’ve seen a real increase in good service commendations from the public. The scheme has also helped to halve the amount of driving accidents on the road.”
Resignation rates are reaching record numbers in the UK in a time now dubbed ‘the Great Resignation’. A November 2021 report from Randstand indicates that almost a quarter of employees in the UK plan to move jobs within the next three to six months.
However, Go-Ahead’s apprenticeship programme reveals the success of the programme at recruiting retaining its apprenticeship talent. Go-Ahead London introduced its first in-house training programme in 2018. Since then, the number of people who have left within two years has fallen from 40% to 13%.