First Bus & Reaseheath College welcomed Roads Minister Richard Holden MP

First Bus and Reaseheath College host Roads Minister at UK's first dedicated bus and coach industry training academy ahead of National Apprenticeship Week

  • First Bus and Reaseheath College have teamed up to create a dedicated apprentice training academy to create engineers of the future for the bus industry
  • State-of-the-art facility that recreates a bus depot environment for apprentices as part of industry leading 12-week training programme
  • Facility that opened in 2021 is now starting to bear fruit as first cohort of apprentice progresses through the programme

First Bus welcomed Roads and Local Transport Minister Richard Holden MP to Reaseheath College to see the progress of the UK’s first dedicated Bus and coach engineering facility as part of National Apprenticeship Week.

An innovative and forward-thinking partnership between First Bus and Reaseheath has helped to establish the UK’s first Bus and Coach engineering academy. Apprentices are trained on the current fleet mix alongside the next generation of zero-emission vehicles, creating a clear pathway for future talent to progress into the industry.

Reaseheath College in Nantwich, Cheshire first opened the national centre in partnership with First Bus back in October 2021. Together they have transformed the college’s Hurleston Road site into a bespoke engineering apprentice academy.

First Bus apprentice Maddison at Reaseheath training academy

Over £650k investment has gone into the training academy since the launch of the partnership with First Bus. The facility adopts a work experience-style environment to help instill a workplace mindset among apprentices and maintain a seamless switch from depot to learning for the apprentices.

The Roads Minister was given a full tour of the facility by First Bus Chief Operating Officer Andrew Jarvis and Head of Engineering Excellence Tony Cockcroft alongside Marcus Clinton, Principal and Chief Executive of Reaseheath College.

First Bus currently has a total of 132 apprentices in the business across England, Scotland and Wales, with 82 of those currently learning at the Reaseheath facility, specialising in mechanical and electrical engineering, coach building and stores.

Richard Holden MP visit to First Bus x Reaseheath Apprentice Training Academy 5

Roads and Local Transport Minister, Richard Holden MP said:

“Driving good skilled jobs across engineering and science across the country, and discovering new-age technologies to tackle pollution go hand in hand.

“Apprenticeships are at the heart of the Government’s mission to boost skills and employment, and it was brilliant to see the great work from First Bus with apprentices here in Reaseheath College, paving the way for exciting careers in a zero-emission bus future.”

Andrew Jarvis, Chief Operating Officer for First Bus said:

The creation of the facility at Reaseheath College has been a game-changer for our apprenticeship programme.

“It has been a concentrated collective effort by our Local Business Units around the country to ensure our apprentices have the best start to their training and the partnership with the team at Reaseheath College has been a huge part of this process.

“We’ve been determined to make sure access to vehicles and equipment for technical skills development are best-in-class and the programme is industry leading in order to recreate a realistic depot environment for our apprentices.

“Zero-emission engine technologies are evolving rapidly as First Bus invests in greener fleets to reduce carbon and improve air quality. It’s vitally important that we build a pipeline of highly skilled engineers with the right knowledge to maintain the current and next generation of buses to help futureproof our business.”


Richard Holden MP visit to First Bus x Reaseheath Apprentice Training Academy 6

Marcus Clinton, Principal and Chief Executive of Reaseheath College said:

“We were delighted to welcome the Minister here today as it gave us the opportunity to show off the unique apprenticeship programme which we deliver in partnership with First Bus.

“By working closely with First Bus we have been able to shape a relevant curriculum delivering a first-class combination of technical and employability skills which meet the specific needs of the company and also guarantees jobs for the apprentices.

“This very successful model puts First Bus firmly in the driving seat and demonstrates the very best example of an educational institution working in unity with an industry partner.

“Reaseheath is well known for this type of co-operative partnership and this leading-edge approach is certainly something to celebrate during National Apprenticeship Week.”

Richard Holden MP visit to First Bus x Reaseheath Apprentice Training Academy 4


Notes to editors

Photo captions

Pic 1 - (L to R) David Pearson MBE, Chair of the board at Reaseheath college, Andrew Jarvis, First Bus Chief Operating Officer, Roads and Local Transport Minister, Richard Holden MP, Tony Cockcroft, First Bus Head of Engineering Excellence and Reaseheath College’s Principal & CEO Marcus Clinton alongside First Bus apprentices Maddison and Liam. 

Pic 2 - First Bus apprentice Maddison, from Bridgwater is learning her trade at Reaseheath College alongside working at local business unit First Bus South.  

Pic 3 - First Bus apprentice Liam, from Norwich, shows the minister around the facility. 

Pic 4 - Roads and Local Transport Minister Richard Holden addresses the First Bus apprentices with a message of encouragement. 

Pic 5 - Roads and Local Transport Minister Richard Holden completes his tour of the UK's first dedicated bus and coach industry engineering training academy.

About First Bus

First Bus is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. Making journeys easier for our customers, we were the first national bus operator to accept contactless card payments across all of our services and our First Bus App is voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators. Our most recent investments are in new, state-of-the-art buses across our key networks.

We work proactively with our local authority partners, making a positive impact on air quality, tackling congestion and improving customer experience. We are focused on First Bus becoming a leader in the transition to a low-carbon future and are committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035; we have pledged not to purchase any new diesel buses after December 2022. We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland. First Bus is a division of FirstGroup.

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