Transport sector needs young talent to be part of its green future

Transport companies need to widen their talent pool to plug the sector's impending skills gap, one initiative is doing this through youth engagement

The transport sector faces an ageing workforce, but the Government’s £3 billion public transport project could provide the opportunity to upskill young people for careers in the sector.

With most UK transport workers aged between 45-54, the sector faces a skills shortage. But social skills building enterprise, Ahead Partnership, wants to help by educating young people on the environmental benefits of using public transport and career opportunities in the sector.

Bus operators forming the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance, including Arriva, First, Transdev, and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, are working with the social enterprise to “deliver a skills initiative to help open up career opportunities and highlight the benefits of greener travel.”

Following the first year of its partnership, The West Yorkshire Bus Alliance has engaged 3,190 students aged 10-18 across the region, where almost half said that they would now consider a career in the sector.

Ahead of the Government’s goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, encouraging the uptake of greener public transport is central to the partnership where “all of the bus operators involved have been focusing on upgrading technology in their new fleets to help reduce carbon emissions and environmental impact.”

Stephanie Burras, 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.”

The partnership shows that engaging with young people and educating them about the transport sector can encourage recruitment interest, meaning the sector could secure the future talent pipeline necessary to increase its operations as the need for efficient public transport grows along with the climate crisis.
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