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Bus operators from across the regional transport sector and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, including Arriva, First and Transdev, have teamed up with social enterprise Ahead Partnership to deliver an important skills initiative to open up career opportunities whilst highlighting the need for greener travel.

The West Yorkshire Bus Alliance celebrated its first full year of partnership, and has engaged 3,190 students aged 10-18 to date across West Yorkshire schools with the benefits of using public transport and the diversity of future career opportunities in the sector. Following an extremely successful first 12 months, nearly half of students that participated in careers panels said that they would now consider a career in the sector.

The West Yorkshire Bus Alliance Education Programme is now entering a new phase and will focus on a number of industry challenges, including how to promote greener forms of travel in a post-Covid world. Activities will utilise engaging digital and classroom-based activities including interactive careers panels, workshops, maths curriculum resources, and an exciting pro-bus travel marketing challenge.

Making the way for a greener future, all of the bus operators involved have been focusing on upgrading technology in their new fleets to help reduce carbon emissions and environmental impact. Arriva, First and Transdev have taken the next step, joining forces to enable the necessary growth of public transport to meet important environmental targets and tackle the Climate Change Emergencies declared within the region. With the transport sector facing the crisis of an ageing workforce – most UK transport workers are aged in the 45-54 age bracket– a pipeline of young, skilled workers is needed to facilitate the future of public transport, and the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance’s education programme is making a key intervention to address the skills gap.

Stephanie Burras CBE, chief executive at Ahead Partnership, said:

“The first year of our programme with the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance has been a huge success and pays testament to the exciting range of opportunities that the transport sector has to offer.

“The ageing workforce is a big challenge for public transport, so right now is a pivotal time in making sure that we protect the future of a sector that will only become more important in society’s efforts to tackle climate change and meet net zero. We’re looking forward to continuing our work with the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance to equip young people with knowledge and enthusiasm for the sector over the next year.” 

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said:

“Encouraging more young people to travel on, and work in, public transport is one of the keys to achieving our vision for the future of travel in West Yorkshire and this programme is playing an important role in raising awareness of the exciting opportunities there are in this sector.

“I am very proud of the work the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance, working with Ahead Partnership, is doing in this area and look forward to seeing the programme grow further over the next year.”

Building upon the impressive success of its first year, 46% of young people who participated in the careers panels said that they would now consider a role in the transport sector, the programme is now launching its second Bus to the Future marketing challenge and Youth Voice Forums, which enable virtual networks of young people to advise on and help shape upcoming plans and policy.  

With an effective, flexible and proven method that helps employers to address their workforce challenges and meet local skills, diversity and social mobility objectives, Ahead Partnership has been working with businesses and education partners to deliver skills and careers initiatives that engage communities and enable aspirations for over 14 years.

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