Opportunities are being opened up for dozens of young people in the public transport sector, with both Go North East and Nexus launching major apprenticeship programmes.
In an effort to tackle a chronic skills shortage in the industry, bus company Go - the third largest employer in the region - has formed a new partnership with Gateshead College and taken on its largest intake of apprentices in many years.
The move is designed to address its struggle to recruit engineers with the right skills and prepare for replacing its ageing workforce.
Nine budding mechanical and electrical engineers and coach builders have joined the company and will be learning on the job for the next four years at its eight depots. The apprentices will be trained locally at Gateshead College on a brand new apprenticeship course designed especially for the firm.
The company’s trainees were previously trained at Coventry College but will now hone their skills at the Skills Academy for Automotive, Engineering, Manufacturing and Logistics on the Team Valley.
Go North East’s chief engineer, Kirk Trewin, said: “We spend a lot of money recruiting and training up engineers from other industries because there are not enough bus engineers out there. We also have a responsibility to the industry to introduce as many apprentices as we can.
“We have been heavily involved in developing this new apprenticeship programme to enable us to produce apprentices of a higher calibre with the skills to be even more effective in the workplace. The trainees will be taught to our exact specification. I feel that partnering with a college closer to home was an important move so that we are also supporting the local economy.”
Nexus, meanwhile, has taken on 10 new apprentices as part of the ongoing expansion of its engineering training programme, also being delivered in partnership with Gateshead College.
The business, which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, launched a new engineering apprenticeship scheme in March 2013, creating 30 new posts to be filled over a three-year period.
The latest apprentices are part of the second intake of recruits.
Director of Rail and Infrastructure for Nexus, Raymond Johnstone, said: “The course is an opportunity for the apprentices to learn a range of vocational skills and secure a future in the railway engineering industry.
“We are investing in training so that we have the right people and the right skills in place with Nexus to maintain the Metro system for many years to come.
“This is our second year of major recruitment on our expanded apprenticeship scheme. I’m delighted to welcome the new recruits to Nexus.”
Paul Gough, strategic leader for business growth and employer engagement at Gateshead College, said: “Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for employers to retain top talent and secure the future of their business. They also offer learners the chance to acquire vital skills while earning a wage.”