TRANSDEV – which runs Keighley Bus Company – is driving an initiative to tackle a UK-wide shortage of engineers in the industry.

The firm has joined with apprenticeship provider Total People to launch SkillUp, which will give recruits the qualifications they need for a career in the bus operator's workshops.

It aims to expand the skills offer beyond school or college leavers to encourage people already working in other roles to consider retraining.

And semi-skilled people with some workshop experience will be given the chance to complete a fast-track one-year course.

Transdev says the new engineers will gain the knowledge needed to maintain its fleet of electric buses.

The company is investing in 15 new electric vehicles for the popular Shuttle service, which runs between Keighley and Bradford.

Transdev operations director, Vitto Pizzuti, says: "The shortage of fully-trained engineers is affecting the whole UK transport industry, not just bus operators.

"As we head towards an electric future, promising trainee engineers are going to be vital on our road ahead.

"The new technology is exciting but it can be complex – that’s why we need adaptable people with a passion for electronics as well as mechanical engineering.

"Colleagues who switch from another role such as driving to join SkillUp will remain on their current pay rate throughout their qualification period, before progressing to our engineering rates – among the best in the bus industry – once fully qualified. It’s another way we’re showing our commitment to retaining and developing our people."

Working with Total People, trainees will study health and safety, workshop housekeeping, materials and tools and diagnosis of electrical, engine and chassis faults.

Total People managing director, Mel Nicholson, says: "We were really excited when we started to discuss the SkillUp scheme with Transdev.

"Having trained many of the company's engineers at our industry-standard facility in Wythenshawe, we already know how passionate Transdev is about developing its employees to become the next generation of engineers.

"This is a really exciting opportunity. Not only can we start people off on their new career in automotive engineering, we also get to help those already in the industry to take the next step in their careers.

"We can’t wait to see all the new faces, and maybe some familiar ones!"

Amongst those already retraining with the firm is Andrew Fleming, who qualified as a driver in 2005.

"I jumped at the chance to add to the knowledge I have by training in mechanical and electrical engineering," he says.

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