A great career ahead: Charlotte’s story

Charlotte Greenwood hadn’t considered a career in bus driving twelve months ago. Yet today she is thriving in her new role as an apprentice bus driver with Stagecoach. Here’s her story…

It was Charlotte’s work coach at her local Job Centre Plus that recognised she had transferable skills from her previous role as a washroom service driver. She had experience in driving, cash handling and customer service, which was exactly what Stagecoach were looking for. He therefore asked Charlotte if she had ever thought about becoming a bus driver.

Becoming a bus driver

Intrigued by the opportunity, Charlotte went along to a ‘meet and greet’ session provided by Interserve Learning & Employment (ILE) and Stagecoach. She recalls: “When the word ‘apprenticeship’ came up I first thought it would be similar to the Youth Training Schemes of years gone by. However, this apprenticeship is a very different thing. I get paid a good wage whilst I learn, and it’s for people of all working ages, not just the younger ones.

After the meet and greet, Charlotte was on her way to becoming a bus driver in no time, she tells us: “It has been a steep learning curve. In the space of six weeks, I went from not being able to drive a bus at all, to working as a fully-fledged bus driver, out there on my own.

“It’s quite scary at first and a lot of responsibility, but Stagecoach really trust you to get on with the job. They fully support you throughout, so even though I’m on my own representing the company, the truth is that Stagecoach are with you all the way. I found that all of my driver colleagues and the management were all really friendly and eager to help, no question was too silly to ask and everyone was really supportive.”

A day in the life

Charlotte’s day at work involves:

  • Arriving at work early to check the diversion boards and mobile app
  • Picking up the running board and confirming where the bus is in the depot, or where and when the bus handover will take place
  • Completing a vehicle safety check
  • Checking the destination board is correct
  • Driving the bus around the route making sure safety is always her top priority pulling into bus stops, greeting passengers, taking payments and issuing tickets
  • Keeping the bus to time wherever possible
  • Signing off at the end of the shift handing the bus back and depositing the cash taken into the designated machines
  • Providing excellent customer service throughout

Support is always on hand

Charlotte is supported by Mick Knowles, Training and Development Officer (TDO) at ILE. Mick works with Charlotte to help her complete her apprenticeship in Passenger Transport. Charlotte tells us: “Mick always has time for me. He understands and supports all apprentices with any challenges they might face. He recently did a driving observation with me, this is something I was really nervous about but he put me at ease straight away and gave me useful and positive feedback.”

As an apprentice, Charlotte undertakes training off-the-job. Stagecoach are very supportive of this and apprentices spend 20% of their time ‘off the job’. Charlotte explains: “I really enjoy attending the workshops, as it develops my knowledge and confidence in my role as a professional bus driver. Everyone at Interserve is really friendly and approachable and at just one day per month, it makes a nice change from the norm.”

A great career ahead

Charlotte is still in the process of completing her apprenticeship but says her highlight so far was passing her tests: “Passing the PCV bus driving test and CPC qualification gave me a sense of achievement that left me on a high for days.”

She is thriving in her new role and working with Stagecoach. Charlotte comments: “I enjoy getting people safely to their destination, and the diversity of people I meet along the way. Working at Stagecoach is like being part a really
big family. It’s great to feel part of a large team.”

Peter Sturch, Senior Training and Development Officer at Interserve Learning & Employment also worked with Charlotte, alongside his colleague Mick Knowles. Peter told us: “She is a pleasure to work with and an outstanding apprentice bus driver. I think she will have a long and successful career within passenger transport.”

For more information on the Bus Driver Apprenticeship visit https://learning-employment.com/stagecoach-bus-driver-apprenticeship/.

*images are for illustrative purposes only and not of Charlotte.

SME access to the Apprenticeship Service is coming in 2020

Non levy payers will soon be able to use the Digital Apprenticeship Service to access funds and search for training providers. The Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is changing the way SMEs access funding for apprenticeships in 2020. From next year SMEs...

National Insurance contributions are abolished for employers of young apprentices

On Wednesday 6 April, it was officially announced that employer National Insurance contributions are to be abolished for apprentices aged under 25 years of age. The result of which will see employers of young apprentices save thousands of pounds. The Government is...

Bringing employability skills to students with autism in Doncaster

The learner recruitment team at Interserve Learning & Employment (ILE) recently visited Stone Hill School in Doncaster to provide employability skills and guidance to students with autism. Head of learner engagement, Kelly Bailey, tasked her team with organising a...