Industry bodies to ‘dismantle barriers’ to diversity

Three industry bodies are teaming up to ‘dismantle barriers’ to diversity in the industry and empower more women in the sector.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), the Bus Centre of Excellence (BCoE) and Society of Operations Engineers (SOE) are teaming up to address the underrepresentation of women in engineering, starting with their collaboration on the IRTE Bus & Coach Skills Challenge.

The collaboration recognises what the bodies describe as a ‘crucial need’ for a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the communities it serves. To achieve this goal, SOE is to extend its mentorship and career development programmes for aspiring female engineers. The BCoE is to offer a hub for knowledge and best practices in bus operations, provides valuable insights into specific engineering roles and challenges within the sector. CPT’s part is to represent the interests of bus and coach operators, ensuring the initiative aligns with industry needs and fosters real-world impact.

By elevating visibility of the competition through their networks, the trio is aiming to attract more female PSV apprentices, technicians and engineers to participate in this national competition, which is now entering its 12th year.

“Over my course, I have seen more women coming into this industry and the company, and I think, all right, we are branching out, this is good” – Hollie Smith, previous Skills Challenge winner

Previous Skills Challenge winner and fourth-year Arriva mechelec apprentice Hollie Smith share some advice for her female peers from the industry on why they should have a go at this year’s competition: “Just do it. I know it’s scary. This is still quite a male-dominated industry, but when I first started my apprenticeship three years ago, I didn’t see women anywhere.

“Over my course, I have seen more women coming into this industry and the company, and I think, all right, we are branching out, this is good. I want more girls to compete, because [female winners] are inspiring not just to women, but to everyone.”

IRTE Skills Challenge 2024 aims to showcase the breadth of engineering roles and inspire more female engineers with a long-term goal of promoting diverse opportunities in bus and coach.

Emma Thompson, Head of Business Operations of the Society of Operations Engineers, said: “We are delighted to join forces with the BCoE and CPT in this transformative initiative. By working together, we can break down barriers and open doors for talented women who are eager to contribute their skills and ideas to the future of engineering.”

BCoE acting Head, Sharon Kindleysides, said: “A diverse workforce is essential for innovation and progress. By supporting women in engineering, we can ensure the bus industry continues to thrive and meet the evolving needs of our communities.”

CPT’s CEO, Graham Vidler, said: “We are proud to participate in this collaborative effort to champion women in engineering. This initiative aligns perfectly with our vision of building a more diverse and inclusive industry that reflects the people we serve.”

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