Ukrainian refugees are being encouraged to become bus drivers.
Metro Mayor Dan Norris helped Stagecoach launch a special recruitment day to encourage the West's Ukrainian guests to get behind the wheel.
At the special open day would-be drivers had a chance to try out driving a bus and meet current bus drivers who say it’s a great profession to join.
If the refugees sign up, the new recruits will take part in a tailored training programme as they learn new skills to become part of the most thanked profession in the whole country.
The West of England is suffering from an acute driver shortage with over 200 vacancies.
This has been the major issue driving recent service reductions. Many bus drivers were lured away from the industry to become lorry drivers last year during the empty shelves crisis when the government wrote to them and suggested they become HGV drivers.
The West of England Authority, led by Mr Norris, is supporting operators with bus driver recruitment. He has funded a four-person bus driver recruitment team helping bus companies target new would-be drivers. This is being backed by tailored careers support and training from the West of England Authority with a single access point for people interested in becoming a bus driver.
Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: "Driving a bus is a really great job. I’m really pleased to support Stagecoach with their Ukrainian refugees recruitment open day. I’ve always said we need innovative ideas if we’re going to fix the number one challenge for buses right now - the severe bus driver shortage. I’ve launched a big bus driver recruitment campaign as I’m determined to get more bus drivers trained up to help fix the cancellations and delays, so people get a bus service they need and deserve. I hope Ukrainian drivers can be part of the solution and that while they are staying here, they enjoy a rewarding career.”
Stagecoach have recently increased their hourly rates to £13.75 per hour (Monday to Friday), £14.00 per hour on Saturdays and £15.70 per hour on Sundays, meaning there has never been a better time to get behind the wheel, Mayor Norris added.
Rachel Geliamassi, managing director of Stagecoach West added: “We’re delighted to be a part of this initiative which not only supports Ukrainians but could very well help us find some much-needed team members. We pride ourselves on a friendly, inclusive working environment and welcome applications from all”.