First Bus Group B apprentices with Simon Bishop

Reaseheath College and First Bus pioneer zero emission training

Reaseheath College and industry partner First Bus have established the UK’s first bus and coach engineering academy and are training apprentices in green technology.

The brand new academy, which opened this month in Nantwich on the A51site formerly occupied by vehicle recycling company Synetiq, is delivering tailored training to First Bus apprentice engineering technicians in the maintenance of next generation, zero-emission transport vehicles.

Reaseheath has invested £50,000 into state-of-the-art training equipment and First Bus, one of the UK’s largest bus operators, has equipped the purpose-built, heavy engineering workshops with hybrid electric training buses and other training tools. The college has created a workplace style environment to maintain a seamless switch between depot and learning.

First Bus has worked closely with Reaseheath’s engineering apprenticeships team to ensure the design and content of the bespoke apprenticeship programme meets its needs. The first cohort of 22 apprentices, including three girls, have begun their training – the majority on a Level 3 bus and coach engineering programme while two are on the Level 3 Trade Supplier apprenticeship.

The apprentices attend Reaseheath for four training blocks each year and are being taught by a new team of tutors and skills coaches, specially recruited for their experience in the bus and coach sector.

First Bus Engineering Director Ian Warr said: “We created this academy to give our apprentices the best start to their training and careers and have supplied top class vehicles and equipment for technical skills development which match Reaseheath’s superb study environment.

“Zero-emission engine technologies are evolving rapidly as First Bus invests in greener fleets to reduce carbon and improve air quality. It’s vitally important that we build a pipeline of highly skilled bus engineers with the specific knowledge and skills to maintain the next generation of these buses.”

First Bus Head of Learning and Development Hansi Jackson commented: “Our company shares very similar values to those of Reaseheath such as the need to embed aspirational teaching and skills development alongside technological innovation within the training programme.

“Crucially, we’ve had the opportunity to work with the apprenticeship team on the delivery model from the beginning, so the programme is truly bespoke and focuses on both technical and professional training. Reaseheath’s new Engineering Apprenticeships Academy and the college campus have fantastic facilities and we are looking forward to further developing this working relationship.”

Reaseheath’s Curriculum Area Manager for Engineering Apprentices, Katie Whiteman, said: “This exciting new collaboration with First Bus has enabled us to offer the expertise of industry professionals within a teaching and learning environment.  We have created a first-class apprenticeship programme for the bus and coach sector which addresses existing skills gaps and will respond to future skills requirement within the sector.”

Programme Leader Simon Bishop added: “I am thrilled to be leading on this newly-launched apprenticeship programme. I believe that our state-of-the-art engineering workshops, on-site accommodation and specialist classrooms offer an exceptional environment for learning. We also offer the added benefit of our safeguarding team, ensuring all apprentices are fully supported round-the-clock.”

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