The Go-Ahead Group, the largest employer of apprentices in the UK transport industry, has hired 1,030 apprentices across its bus and rail operations during 2021.

The figure includes bus drivers and engineering apprentices in Newcastle, Hull and London and customer service apprenticeships at Govia Thameslink Railway.

Notably, the company has hired more than 600 bus driver apprentices in London – equating to 50 new recruits each month. Go-Ahead was the first in-house provider of bus driving apprenticeships in the UK.

This success comes in spite of the fact that apprenticeship starts have fallen across the UK since the start of the pandemic. A government report published earlier this year indicates a nearly 20% drop in apprenticeship starts from August 2020-January 2021[1].

Susanna Dillon, Head of Apprenticeships at Go-Ahead said: “I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved this year at Go-Ahead – we’ve adapted to the pandemic and are stronger than ever. We’re committed to recruiting apprentices and bringing in people with fresh ideas and viewpoints to shake up the transport sector.”

In a time dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’, the Group hopes that other career switchers will consider a career in bus and rail for 2022. Apprentice career switchers over 55 years old include a former teaching assistant and a former legal secretary.

At Go-Ahead London, the apprenticeship program has cut the number of trainees who leave within two years from 40% to 13%, has increased the number of commendations for good service from passengers and has halved the number of driving accidents.

At Go-Ahead London – the largest operator of red buses on behalf of Transport for London – 82% of apprentices are BAME and 18% are women.

For its commitment to diversity, Go-Ahead was highly commended for Recruitment Excellence at the government-accredited National Apprenticeship Awards earlier this month. The Group also won the regional London awards for Macro Employer of the Year and Recruitment Excellence.

Go-Ahead’s apprenticeships take between 12 and 36 months. All apprentices are offered numeracy and literacy training equivalent to Maths and English GCSEs, showcasing the company’s commitment to supporting learning.