Ahead of National Apprenticeship Week 2023, Alexander Dennis, a subsidiary of NFI Group Inc., one of the world’s leading independent global bus manufacturers, has announced enhancements to its AD24 Training Academy courses for apprentices in order to ‘futureproof’ the bus industry’s workforce.
The developments to the training are aimed to reflect the evolving industry and close a widening skills gap. The training will continually be developed further to incorporate new technologies and vehicles including battery-electric and hydrogen-fuel cell buses, alongside traditional diesel systems.
Tony Davis, Group Aftermarket Director at Alexander Dennis, says: “Apprentices coming into the industry today are the future of the workforce that will require a highly specialised skill set. The advancements in vehicles and automotive technology will only continue to develop so we need the next generation of vehicle technicians and engineers to be trained effectively. Apprentices are key to the success of this generation and National Apprenticeship Week serves as a reminder of a great route into the industry where you can become highly qualified.”
In its most recent Automotive Sector Employment Report, the Institute of the Motor Industry warned of a ‘significant’ skills crisis in the UK’s automotive sector with vehicle technicians being the most in-demand role by 2031.
It predicts that there will 160,000 vacancies in the sector by 2031 and 16 per cent of these will be for technicians. It found that the switch to electric vehicles, decreased immigration and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic are fuelling an escalating skills crisis.
Training for bus operators’ apprentices is part of the expert training school from the manufacturer’s aftermarket service, AD24. Any company in the bus and coach industry can use the AD24 Training Academy to provide apprentices and other employees with external training for their individual learning and development. All courses are fully approved by the Institute of the Motor Industry.
The AD24 apprentice training course upskills apprentices on the electric systems used on modern buses as well as teaching how to electronically troubleshoot using multi-meters and the latest diagnostic tools.
Tony explains: “Whilst mechanical components still form the backbone running gear on a bus, even on diesel buses most mechanical components are now controlled using CAN lines, ECUs and multiplex systems. Our approach is to teach the skills create a good technician, rather than just a mechanic.”
AD24 encourages in-person classroom training and this can take place at both Alexander Dennis’s state-of-the-art facilities in Farnborough, opened in summer 2022, or on-site at the location of the trainees.
AD24 encompasses all of the Alexander Dennis aftermarket offer to customers, including spare parts, mobile technicians, service centres and expert training.