Go-Ahead reports increase in female bus drivers

Increase in female bus driver applicants

Major national bus operator Go-Ahead has seen a significant increase in applications for driving jobs from women, which has resulted in a 20% rise in the number of female bus drivers it has recruited in the past year.

Employing almost 16,000 people, the company has seen female representation in its workforce grow to 12%, following a range of efforts to hire more women. This included a ‘we’re hiring people like you’ campaign by its subsidiary, Go North West in Manchester, and a ‘heroes of the road’ campaign at its East Yorkshire Buses business. In addition, the group launched a programme to build the foundations of culture change across its businesses, and a new bus driver apprenticeship scheme at Go-Ahead London.

Head of Colleague Experience at Go-Ahead Claire Mahoney said: “Driving a bus is a valuable and rewarding role, providing a vital everyday service up and down Britain. We want our workforce to reflect the communities we serve, which means a better balance of men and women behind the wheel. I’m pleased that we’re getting more women on board. We’re moving in the right direction but there’s much further to go yet.”

Women make up a small percentage of the labour force in many areas of the coach and bus industry, with the Office for National Statistics in 2021 revealing only 11% of drivers in the UK were female. More generally, it is reported that women account for only 16.5% of the workforce in engineering, which is a statistic likely to be reflected in coach and bus.

Attracting women into the PSV sector has long been an issue for operators, which have tried many different tactics to showcase the sector as offering a dynamic career opportunity, not to mention apprenticeships. According to a survey conducted by First Bus, a quarter of women have actively avoided what they perceive as ‘men only’ careers. The company says that the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineers in Europe, estimated to be just 11% of engineering roles held by women.

There are some signs, however, that existing trends are softening. For example, operator Trentbarton announced its first female apprentice technician to coincide with International Women’s Day earlier this month.The company says it will recruit more apprentice technicians in 2023 and the intake level will not be capped.

For almost 60 years, Imperial Engineering has been an advocate of skilled engineers within the PSV sector but recognises that women have traditionally not considered it to be a career option. In its role as a leading distributor of OE bus and coach parts to hundreds of fleets across the UK, Imperial has been a proud sponsor of the IRTE Skills Challenge since 2019, in order to highlight the importance of engineering training to the bus and coach industry.

John Dwight, Imperial Engineering’s Sales Director, commented:

“It’s crucial to the successful future of our industry that we’re seen as an attractive career opportunity for anyone, regardless of their gender, age, race or sexuality. Clearly there has been a lot of effort on the part of operators to try and encourage people from a wider demographic to consider roles such as bus driving and engineering, which is very commendable. Imperial Engineering continues to support customers with training where needed and the IRTE Skills Challenge is an initiative that we remain proudly associated with.”