KEIGHLEY Bus Company is stepping-up recruitment as a shortage of drivers hits the industry UK-wide.

The firm says it’s “always ready” to speak to potential newcomers

At the latest meeting of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s transport committee, members heard that this region was currently short of around 250 bus drivers – about ten per cent of the workforce.

The shortage has been attributed to a combination of factors, including drivers leaving due to the strains of ‘frontline’ work during the pandemic and being tempted away by high-paid jobs in haulage.

Councillor Taj Salam, who works as a bus driver and is branch secretary for the Unite Union, told the meeting: “There is a massive staff shortage at this moment in time. There are services being dropped. A lot of drivers are rethinking their careers and operators are finding it difficult.

“We can talk about making the career attractive to new applicants but we also need to make the industry more attractive for people already employed in it. If we don’t make it attractive to them, they’ll leave.”

Keighley Bus Company general manager, Alan Isherwood, told the Keighley News that it was a challenging time for driver recruitment across the whole industry.

He added: “We are working hard, including in partnership with smaller local bus operators, to continue delivering the service our customers expect from us.

“We’re also stepping-up our recruitment with a new campaign built around the many benefits we offer, such as flexible working patterns designed around the individual, investing in their future and being part of a great team.

“We know we need to offer the best in terms of looking after our people – that’s why we’ve put together one of the bus industry’s most rewarding packages of benefits, including a salary of up to £22,000, up to 25 days’ paid holiday, a £1,000 welcome bonus to qualified drivers who join us and free travel on our buses and many others across the north.

“Our in-house Step Up talent development programme also offers many opportunities for career progression – many of our senior managers across our organisation began their journey behind the wheel of a bus.

“We’re always ready to talk to potential newcomers about becoming a driver with us. More details of our opportunities in Keighley and across the north are on our website,”