1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My role involves passenger transport: Ensuring the safe and efficient journeys of commuters, checking the bus over at the beginning of each day to ensure that it is road-worthy and safe for passengers to use. Cash-handling is required, and so therefore there is a requirement for good mathematics skills as well as English as communication is the hallmark of the job. The role has a significant element of customer service, and time-keeping as one should, wherever safe and possible, stick to timetables.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I came into the role with a strong customer service experience behind me, but have still learned and adapted this under the tutelage of the company providing the apprenticeship. The main skill acquired, however, was the ability to drive a bus, for which full training was provided, and from this my Driver Qualification Card along with the addition of the vehicle class to my existing licence.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
The programme itself has a heavy practical/on-the-job element which I enjoy immensely: The classroom based learning is well delivered, coherent and apt to the role.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The structure is sound, the lessons are delivered with time between to contemplate and review: If there were to be a minor criticism, occasionally there can be clerical issues between the employer and the training provider which sometimes lead to schedule conflicts, but these are few and far between.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
My employer has been more than helpful, both in terms of availability for the course, and in more general matters related to life: Where matters around the course have caused the aforementioned scheduling conflicts, these have been either corrected or worked around with no undue pressure on the individual to compensate for miscommunications between the training provider and the company.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
Materials, courses, locations are all provided, and trainers are approachable and friendly: Since the Coronavirus issues began and once lockdown ended, training has resumed, with the training company adapting to provide course elements and sessions via Zoom meeting, which has allowed for an almost seemless continuation of training in spite of the need for social distancing. There is a significant amount of support both within the training provider and supported from the depot drivers and managers.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
Where the role of a bus driver can be reduced to simply driving a bus and taking fares, the course focuses on a holistic appraisal, with strong focus on customer service, knowledge and responsibilities pertinent to the job: The regular revisiting of regulations, requirements and skills serves to reinforce and cement these, hopefully ensuring a better experience for the customer and the safest, most professional focus in staff. I feel that this approach is improving me significantly.
8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)
I am aware that, under normal circumstances, there are a number of clubs and societies that drivers may engage with/sign up to: The current situation makes these a little redundant, but it is to be hoped that with a resumption of normal working bodies like the Sports & Social Society can resume their activities, arranging family excursions, sports matches, days and nights out, etc. Given the nature of the business there are also perks in relation to travel which mean that one can enjoy days out separate to other individuals. There is also access to a discount website which offers reductions on a variety of services and suppliers.
9a. Would you recommend Stagecoach UK to a friend?
I can honestly say that this is the first time I have ever enjoyed a job: I went into the training aware that, as with any role, I might experience disgruntled or difficult customers, aggression, etc, and to a small extent this is true, but overall these incidents are outweighed by the support and camaraderie of my colleagues, the passengers I deal with who are generally genial, kind, patient, understanding and responsible. Keeping to time can feel stressful, but the depot will assist you in any way they can to get back on time and do so safely.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Stagecoach UK?
Simply go into the job with no illusions: It is a customer facing job, and so the people that pass you on the pavement walking to work are the same people that will get on your bus later in the day, with all the same interests and quirks and foibles. Read up on Stagecoach; Be prepared to cram for a driving test; LEARN YOUR HIGHWAY CODE; Be prepared for rules and regulations because these are important.