First and TfGM grant boost for Manchester jobseekers

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Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and First Manchester have launched a Sector Based Work Academy (SBWA), which offers participants a job interview, pre-employment training, license acquisition, work experience and a guaranteed job on successful completion of the training as a bus driver in one of First Manchester’s four depots.

The Train, Learn, Drive and Earn (TLDE) scheme has been enhanced to a SBWA delivery model, and has already helped 99 participants to secure employment since its 2013 launch. The scheme works closer with specific operators, such as First Manchester, to better align jobseeker training to their organisational needs.

Under the training scheme participants will be able to get support with free travel to and from the training. The course will not affect their ability to claim any current benefits.

The open day took place on Monday November 20 at the Employer Suite, Town Hall Extension, St Peter’s Square, Manchester, M2 5DB. Training began on Monday November 27.

Cllr Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, added: “By working with specific operators such as First Manchester, we are able to ensure that jobseekers are trained to a high standard, making them available for immediate employment.

“The roles are not just about driving, but often require extra skills like customer service and being aware of other road users, such as cyclists.

“The Train, Learn, Drive and Earn scheme already has an excellent track record of helping people back into employment and I look forward to hearing more stories of how it has changed people’s lives for the better.”

Speaking about the vacancies available, Paul Townley, Operations Manager at First Manchester, said: “Having joined the business over seven years ago, as a bus driver, I know first-hand how great this job can be for people looking for a new challenge. You’re very much your own boss, as once you’re in the driving seat, you’re in charge of your day.

“There’s also great development opportunities available – as after 18 months of working as a driver, I was promoted to a supervisor position and following that moved onto a staff manager, service performance manager, through to today where I’m the Operations Manager.

“We also offer attractive benefits to our staff across the company, including a free bus pass for you and your family, which not many people know about.”

TLDE has been running since 2013 and is led by TfGM, with support from Jobcentre Plus. It is currently funded by the DfT’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund.