Mark O’Shaughnessy: How to be the best kind of apprentice

Apprentice driver Mark O'Shaughnessy
Pictured (left to right) Stagecoach Operations Manager Rob Vince, Driver Apprentice Mark O’Shaughnessy and Realise Training and Development Officer Steve Barlow.

Mark O’Shaughnessy, a newly qualified Stagecoach South bus driver, is the first to pass the company’s new apprenticeship scheme and has become a model employee for the operator.

Described as one of the best learner drivers by his mentor, Mark began his career in December 2019 when Stagecoach South launched a new apprenticeship scheme with training partner Realise to the region.

The scheme, conducted over 14 months, involves 10 workshops with a Training and Development Officer, and covers all the necessary aspects of driver training. Three additional workshops then prepare the apprentices for an end point assessment (EPA), where they are observed in service and given a professional review.

Mark’s training was disrupted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when he was placed on furlough. But that did not stop him from continuing with classroom sessions for his training and functional skills through online meeting platform Zoom, where he even provided valuable feedback to Realise Training and Development Officer, Steven Barlow.

The result was that Mark got ahead in his progress to other learners who had started the apprenticeship before him. He was then allocated to his own group to complete the remaining workshops and EPA preparation.

Mark is now the first to have passed the course.

“I did an observation in service and you would have thought Mark had many years of experience driving a bus,” says Steven. “It was one of the best observations of a learner I have encountered. His drive was safe, smooth and comfortable. He was engaging with every customer boarding. It was in challenging times with COVID-19, with the new social distance measures on board and ensuring customers followed the rules and mask compliance and exact fare.

“COVID-19 changed the way we delivered the apprenticeship programme and Mark embraced the change and was a big support for me as his Training and Development Officer as he was honest with his feedback regarding Zoom workshop delivery and this helped me improve lessons to a better quality for other learners.

“His dedication, commitment and professional approach to the apprenticeship, functional skills exams and to his role as a driver defiantly shows he is a great example of how the apprenticeship scheme engages new drivers. He demonstrates all the Stagecoach values. I wish him luck with his career at Stagecoach.”

Adds Operations Manager Rob Vince: “It’s great to have Mark on board with us now he’s passed his apprenticeship. He’s a real credit to the company and was so dedicated to the training programme it really shows in his day to day driving.

“The apprenticeship scheme is a great way into becoming a driver for Stagecoach, and not an avenue that many would think about initially.”