Up to 150 new jobs could be created as a Newcastle taxi firm launches a recruitment drive.
In the run-up to Christmas, Budget Taxis will be starting its own training school, employing senior drivers to pass on their knowledge both in a classroom at its Hadrian Road premises and through one-to-one on-the-road practice.
Budget has already bought 10 new vehicles for the first batch of new recruits, and, in the long-term, wants to take on as many as 150 more drivers.
All those who pass Newcastle City Council’s driver test at the end will then be guaranteed a job.
David Singh, a consultant who masterminded the plans for the firm, said: “The company has grown so much, so I thought, ‘Why not provide some new opportunities?’.
“I wanted to keep this work in the North East and to take some people off the dole.
“It won’t cost them anything; we will pay for them to get through the test and give them a vehicle for use if they don’t have one.
“This is open to everyone who enjoys driving.”
The world of taxi firms is relatively new to Singh, who founded and ran a range of retail stores for 35 years before taking on a job as a taxi driver himself.
About a year ago, he joined the ranks of Noda Taxis and helped created Budget as a cut-price spin-off with a focus on account work.
“Ideas are always running through my brain and I thought I could take this company places,” he said.
Now, the firm’s operations room borders on “futuristic”, with everything computerised and featuring state-of-the art satellite navigation technology.
To launch the recruitment campaign, Singh had a run-down van refurbished and painted with a eye-catching advertisement that will be seen around the city in the coming weeks.
Vehicles used by the new drivers, meanwhile, will be serviced by the company, and repaired if necessary.
All the drivers will have to pay for, in fact, is the petrol they use.
“We have in the region of 280 drivers as it is and work is solid - we’ve won a lot of new contracts,” Singh added.
“The new drivers can make good money.
“Our city has got a very good nightlife and people who travel here from places like London enjoy it.
“It’s a good time to get involved, as its in the run-up to Christmas.
“It depends on each person how long it takes to qualify, but it can be done fairly quickly.”
Budget, which has swipe card machines in its cars, bases itself on the concept of “superior service at budget prices”. It claims to offer up to a 45% reduction over cabs on the rank and operates throughout Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside, Sunderland and South Tyneside and Northumberland.