Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, has officially opened a new National Express Training Academy in partnership with South and City College Birmingham.
The National Express Training Academy includes a number of new classrooms, along with a brand-new MOT pit lane and brake roller tester to provide students with hands-on experience of working with vehicles. A National Express West Midlands bus and a number of other parts have also been donated for use as part of the various training programmes available.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been invested in the new academy, based at South and City’s Bordesley campus, to help tackle youth unemployment in the region.
As one of Birmingham’s biggest private sector employers, National Express is working with the college to deliver pre-employment and pre-apprenticeship training for hundreds of people interested in job roles including driving, ancillary, mechanical support and customer services.
The college is working with Jobcentre Plus to identify those aged under 24 who are looking for work and can enrol and learn the skills they need before going on to employment. Every student that successfully completes and passes their training is guaranteed an interview for a role with National Express.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said:
“This is a great project on several levels. Of course, it is absolutely vital for West Midlanders to have the opportunity to gain new skills, particularly in our work to overcome the youth unemployment challenge.
“But I am actually equally excited about the transport benefits. In the coming decades buses will become cleaner, greener and, therefore, more complex. I am confident also that as we begin to win the battle against congestion, we will see more buses on the roads.
“We are going to need people with the skills to drive, service and maintain these buses so that we can keep the West Midlands moving and continue to play their key role in our economy.”
Mike Hopkins, Principal, South and City College Birmingham, said:
“The Academy is the culmination of many years of developing a partnership which has benefited both the company and the college. It has to be one of the best examples of a business college relationship with the college becoming a key part of the supply chain for the company.
“The opening of the Academy now means that we will be able to work together to train local people to become employees and apprentices to National Express and to train and upskill the existing and future workforce.
“The really exciting part is that our skilled staff, company engineers and managers will be working together to develop the training and qualifications to ensure that the company continues its success.”
Tom Stables, Managing Director, National Express UK, said:
"We are really proud to launch the new National Express Training Academy in partnership with South and City College Birmingham.
“As one of the region’s largest private sector employers it’s vital that we work together with the college to provide young people in the communities we serve with local education, training and skills opportunities and help them get ready for future employment.
“Our existing workforce has a wide range of skills and we’re looking forward to developing our people even further, providing new skills that will deliver an excellent public transport system for our customers.”
South and City College Birmingham is also supporting the region’s largest bus and coach operator with the development of its people by delivering a range of courses for existing staff, including leadership and management training, welding and wheel fitment. National Express already has 40 managers and supervisors from across the UK on training programmes at the college.
The launch of the academy ties in with the government’s Year of Engineering campaign, which aims to tackle the UK’s engineering skills gap. It is hoped that pre-apprenticeship opportunities available at the brand-new training academy will encourage more young people to consider a career in engineering.