Susanna Dillon: How the Go-Ahead apprenticeship scheme is helping to Build the Future

This was originally posted on the CPT website. 

Here at the Go-Ahead Group, we are dedicated to employing, training and retaining our apprentices. We set ambitious targets every year to bring in people from different walks of life and introduce them to the busy world of transport.

This year’s National Apprenticeship Week is to ‘Build the Future’. Here’s how we’re achieving that.

Through Training

Two years ago, we became the first transport provider to provide bus driving apprenticeships in-house. Our Camberwell Training academy in South London has since trained more than 500 drivers who serve bus routes across London.

Training of course has had to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic. We’ve pioneered new ways of remote working and social distancing in our academies to ensure colleagues are always safe. It can be tough as apprenticeships are so hands-on, but our colleagues have really pulled through to provide a top-quality scheme that empowers our apprentices.

We also continue to offer English, Maths and IT qualification for those that need them. Three-quarters of colleagues at Go-Ahead London bus drivers achieve Maths and English qualifications before completing their apprenticeship, helping them to gain valuable qualifications that will support their future career path.

Through Retaining

One of our primary goals is not only to attract apprentices, but to make sure they want to be here for the long-term. That means looking at our culture and ensuring that our colleagues’ health, safety and wellbeing is prioritised, while empowering our workforce to build upon their skills.

But we know there is more that we can do. We’re especially focused on recruiting women into transport. Female bus driver apprentices represent 20% of Go-Ahead London’s recent recruits. Although there is much work to be done, this is significantly better than the national average of 11% female bus drivers.

Through Achieving

There are so many business benefits for apprenticeships. By improving apprentices’ skills, we can develop a motivated, qualified workforce. We see a real return on investment in this, which helps to improve productivity and business performance now and in the future.

Many of our apprentices go on to become senior leaders in the organisation in time. Go-Ahead London’s Managing Director John Trayner started his career as an engineering apprentice in the 1970s, while Go North East Engineering Director Colin Barnes has worked his way up through the years. Plymouth Citybus’ senior management also sits at 50% former apprentices.

Overall, we want to be clear. To secure the future of the business we must continually recruit new talent. The pandemic, or other ups and downs in business, won’t stop that. We’re committed to investing in people for the long term – come what may.