Planning ahead to tackle the shortage

By Categories: Commercial NewsPublished On: Thursday 27 June 2024

Laura Mack, manager of the RTITB Instructor Academy, says in-house training can help address the bus and coach driver shortfall

While UK bus and coach services are booming, demand from commuters is outstripping supply from operators. According to the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), bus journeys are up by as much as 29 per cent in Scotland, and 19 per cent in England.

However, transport operators are struggling to fill bus and coach driver vacancies. Research in 2023 stated that the vacancy rates in the coach industry are currently 12.5 per cent, while for buses it’s 6.5 per cent. This follows Department for Transport (DfT) figures published in 2022 that showed a 9.5 per cent shortage of local bus drivers in Great Britain, with the biggest deficit in Scotland (14 per cent).

Bus and coach drivers must hold the correct qualifications and licences to take on a role. Some individuals looking to enter the profession will seek out their own training. However, this incurs costs to the individual. It is not a strategy that the transport industry can rely on to overcome driver shortages.

So, employers need to take action, and planning ahead can help ensure sufficient provision for these increasing passenger numbers. Acting now could help prevent driver shortages and an undersupply of transport services in the future.

Bringing training in-house

Training drivers in-house is a great option for many companies. With in-house bus instructors and coach instructors, companies have the ability to deliver the training to help drivers prepare for the DVSA tests. Employers retain complete control over who is trained and when, without having to rely on availability from third-party trainers.

Having bus and coach instructors on an in-house team also means ready access to resource to deliver ongoing Driver CPC Periodic Training, as well as any post-assessment/incident remedial training. This helps keep existing drivers on the road.

This shift to in-house training provision also presents an opportunity to upskill experienced drivers into bus/coach assessors and bus/coach instructors. This can boost in-house training capacity, bolster driver recruitment, and add value to your business.

Why invest in upskilling now?

The UK government is currently considering options to help retain and attract new bus and coach drivers. This will generate demand for quality driver training across the PCV/PSV community. These courses will need to be delivered by skilled and knowledgeable bus instructors. Bringing qualified bus instructors or coach instructors in-house, enables companies to respond fast to driver training needs, helping to fill vacant roles faster.

With many companies actively looking to fill bus and coach driver positions, it is a busy time for recruitment. Having in-house bus assessors or coach assessors will help ensure companies have the right team in place. They will be ready to support driver recruitment processes and maintain safety and efficiency standards among existing drivers.

Bus assessors and instructors bring big benefits

With qualified PCV/PSV instructors and assessors, companies can expect to save valuable time and money on external training for new drivers. Having this resource in house is more convenient and usually more cost-effective. It also provides long-term flexibility.

With peaks in recruitment, bus assessors and coach assessors will also play an important role. They can carry out pre-employment driving assessments. These check a driver’s level of skill and knowledge before employment. Bus assessors can also help companies maintain driving standards through annual assessments of drivers, for example. Or after an incident occurs.

Bus/coach assessor and bus/coach instructor training also represent a great opportunity for career development for drivers with the right attributes. This can help boost employee morale. It also shows that employers care about staff, making them a more attractive employer.

Choosing a high-quality, professional course for bus/coach Instructors can provide reassurance that candidates are equipped with the necessary skills to train and/or assess drivers.

The RTITB Instructor Academy offers bus and coach instructor and assessor courses developed by experts with safety in mind and to help support compliance. They are ideal training pathways for candidates with significant experience as a PCV/PSV driver and who also possess good attention to detail, and great communication skills.

The bus driver shortage is a complex challenge and there is no instant solution. Creating an environment where bus driving is not just a job but a fulfilling and rewarding career choice may take time. But the right training is a great place to start.