Go-Ahead sets record goal to hire 1,200 apprentices in 2020

  • The Go-Ahead Group will expand apprentice recruitment by 20 per cent for 2020
  •  Go-Ahead met its target of recruiting 1,000 apprentices in 2019
  • The expansion is bucking the wider national trend of falling apprenticeship starts

Dobbet Lo Res.jpg3 February - The Go-Ahead Group is to recruit a record-breaking class of 1,200 apprentices this year, accelerating the recruitment of trainees to roles across the UK.

The 2020 intake will represent a 20 per cent increase on hiring goals for 2019, when the business set an ambitious target of bringing in 1,000 apprentices, which it met with eight weeks to spare.

Recent recruits include mothers returning to work, a former mental health counsellor and a prison worker.

The increase in recruitment is a demonstration of Go-Ahead’s commitment to training and development across its bus companies, which span from Newcastle to Plymouth, and its rail operations, which include Southeastern and Govia Thameslink Railway.

It also reflects Go-Ahead’s desire to build on its successes in bringing talented trainees into the business from all walks of life.

Go-Ahead Group chief executive David Brown said: “We successfully reached 1,000 apprentices in 2019 and now we’re being even more ambitious. We understand the importance of recruiting talent from all walks of life and many of our senior leaders at Go-Ahead London, Go North East and Plymouth Citybus started as apprentices. I’m especially proud of the success of our bus driver apprenticeships, which have gone from strength to strength since their launch last year.”

This target includes hiring 400 new apprentice bus drivers in Go-Ahead London, where former engineering apprentice John Trayner now serves as managing director. Reflecting the employer’s commitment to diversity, two-thirds of Go-Ahead London apprentices come from BAME backgrounds and two-thirds of apprentices are over 30 years old.

thumbnail_Jamie Lo Res.jpgIn addition to bus and train driving, apprenticeships on offer include customer service, business administration, mechanical, engineering and technical roles. Training takes between 12 and 36 months.

By expanding recruitment, Go-Ahead is bucking a nationwide trend –recent figures from the House of Commons library showed that 72,400 fewer people were participating in an apprenticeship in 2018/19 than in 2017/18.[1]

Similarly, the number of apprenticeship starts remain below the levels seen before the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017.

Go-Ahead is the only employer provider of apprenticeships for bus driver roles in the UK transport sector. It will also bring train driving apprenticeships fully in-house in 2020.

Trainees are offered numeracy and literacy training equivalent to Maths and English GCSEs. 87% of Go-Ahead London bus drivers and 43% of Southeastern apprentices have taken advantage of this extra support, showcasing Go-Ahead’s commitment to supporting learning. 

Apprentices across Go-Ahead Group range between 16 and 75 years old. 4% of Southeastern’s apprentices are over 56 years old, and nearly one-third of GTR’s operational apprentices are women.

Go-Ahead London apprentice bus driver Dobbet Donaldson, age 40, said: “On the apprenticeship scheme I’ve found it easy to balance all my training alongside seeing my family on a regular basis. You’re never too old to start learning something new and Go-Ahead London are supporting those, like myself, wishing to change their lives.”

For more information go to https://www.go-ahead.com/en/working-for-goahead/Apprenticeships.html


For further information:

Mark Sands
Mark.Sands@bcw-global.com / 07979 904 401

Steve Hawkes
​​​​​​​Steve.hawkes@bcw-global.com / 07980 823 755

Case Studies

  • Available on request from Go-Ahead London, Southeastern and GTR
  • High Resolution images are available on request 



Go-Ahead is one of the leading UK public transport operator companies.  Our purpose is to be the local partner taking care of journeys that enhance the lives and wellbeing of our communities across the world.  Employing around 29,000 people across our businesses, over 1.2 billion passenger journeys are undertaken on our rail and bus services every year. In addition to the travelling public, our customers include governments and local authorities. We are committed to contributing to tackling climate change, improving air quality and reducing social isolation, and aim to run a zero emission bus fleet by 2035.


Go-Ahead is one of the UK's largest bus operators. With a fleet of nearly 6,000 buses, we carry over two million passengers every day. We have a strong presence in London, with around 23 per cent market share, where we provide regulated services for Transport for London. Outside London, we principally serve high-density commuter markets, including the North East, Greater Manchester, East Yorkshire, East Anglia, South East and South West England. Internationally, we operate a bus contract in Singapore and two bus contracts in Ireland. 


The rail division operates two franchises in the UK and two contracts in Germany. In the UK, Southeastern and GTR (Govia Thameslink Railway) operate through our 65% owned subsidiary, Govia, which is 35% owned by Keolis. It is the largest rail operation in the UK, responsible for around 30 per cent of all UK passenger rail journeys through its rail franchises. In Germany, our contracts are run exclusively by Go-Ahead.


Certain statements included in this press release contain forward-looking information concerning the Group’s strategy, operations, financial performance or condition, outlook, growth opportunities or circumstances in the sectors or markets in which the Group operates. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve uncertainty because they depend of future circumstances, and relate to events, not all of which are within the Group’s control or can be produced by the Group. Although the Group believes that the expectations reflected in such forward–looking statements are reasonable, no assurance can be given that such expectations will prove to have been correct. Nothing in this press release should be construed as a profit forecast and no part of these results constitutes, or shall be taken to constitute, an invitation or inducement to invest in The Go-Ahead Group plc or any other entity, and must not be relied upon in any way in connection with any investment decision. Except as required by law, the Group undertakes no obligation to update any forward looking statement.