700 apprentice London bus drivers in Go-Ahead plans

Go Ahead London apprentice bus driver Chelsea Dash

No fewer than 700 apprentice bus drivers for Go-Ahead London will account for the majority of the 1,020 apprentice hires that parent Go-Ahead Group plans to make during 2023.

100 apprentices will also be recruited across the group’s regional bus businesses and in head office roles, while 220 apprentice train drivers and engineers will make up the overall target. The group has highlighted that it accepts apprentices regardless of age, and that the scheme is open to individuals aged from 16-65.

Go-Ahead London uses an academy in Camberwell to deliver bus driving apprenticeships. The group says that academy is the “first and largest” provider of such training in the UK. It recently celebrated its fifth birthday.

Virtual reality technology it deployed to teach practical skills. Trainees alternate over the course of a year between driving buses and time spent in the classroom, with the operator having previously credited the adoption of driver apprenticeships for reducing the turnover rate of new recruits.

In 2022, 77% of those who started the apprentice bus driver course with Go-Ahead London completed the course and gained a qualification. Aspects of the bus driver role covered also include numeracy and literacy training equivalent to maths and English GCSEs, and additional support for apprentices with a range of neurodiverse conditions.

Last year Go-Ahead Group was named one of the UK’s top 20 apprenticeship employers via a ranking system developed by the Department for Education, and the top provider in the transport industry.

78% of those who joined Go-Ahead London’s apprenticeship programme in 2022 were from ethnic backgrounds other than white British, which the group says illustrates the strength of apprenticeships in further diversifying its workforce. Across the wider business, 32% of new apprentices were aged over 40.

Among the apprentice drivers already within Go-Ahead London’s academy is Chelsea Dash, 23 (pictured). She is a survivor of the Haiti earthquake in 2010 and has lived in London for seven years. Ms Dash joined the apprenticeship scheme after seeing it advertised on the rear of a bus.