People 1st celebrate a decade of success – We speak to the new Managing Director

Earlier this month, People 1st, the training and skills organisation for the service sector, celebrated its 10th anniversary with a reception at the Sea Life – London Aquarium


The evening was an opportunity to highlight the work that had been done and this was skilfully presented in a video called The Visit, which showcased some of the individuals and organisations who had benefited from People 1st training programmes. In addition, it was a fitting occasion for the former CEO, Brian Wisdom, who has stepped down from the position but will remain as an ambassador for the organisation, to hand over the reigns to the new Managing Director, Simon Tarr. I spoke to Simon to find out how the organisation has supported the passenger transport industry and their plans going forward.

Despite passenger transport being a relatively new sector to People 1st, they have fully embraced it by producing a plethora of information, research and training for the industry. ‘Careers that Move’ is their dedicated passenger transport website and as Simon explained, ‘Our aim is to provide careers rather than jobs and to create the pathway to success from driver to manager.’

Last year, they produced the ‘State of the Nation’ report, an analysis of the labour market trends, skills, education and training within the UK passenger transport industry. Their findings in the bus and coach market have led to a number of new training programmes and opportunities.


Much of their work has been in partnership with bodies such as the CPT. Their first collaboration, which was also in conjunction with VOSA, was to produce a guide to graduated fixed penalties. This sets out what an operator can easily check to make sure they don’t acquire penalty points. Linking with these are a series of bus and coach driver walk-round check cards which list all the points drivers must check before taking their vehicle out. Both are incorporated in the CPT’s on-line compliance manual, which is available free to all members.

They have also co-created bus station training and health and safety manuals, a disability awareness DVD and developed the professional standards for bus Engineering Managers, Operations Managers, Supervisors and Drivers.

Licence to Practise

To raise the skills of people working in passenger transport, People 1st have introduced a voluntary ‘Licence to Practise’ initiative for trainers. It is a way for professionals working as PCV driver trainers to show local authorities, operators, employees and customers that they have the relevant training to support their job role.

Following feedback from operators, they are working with the bus and coach industry to make the Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) Driving Instruction the common standard for all PCV driver trainers. A national online register has been set up to provide one central system where operators can check whether driver trainers have achieved the diploma and apply for their own drivers to appear. Driver trainers receive a number of benefits from registering and after three years, will need to re-register after completing some CPD training. This will demonstrate to JAUPT that they are competent to deliver periodic CPC training. Registration details are available from

Women in the workforce

Women 1st is an important part of the training company and with the help of government funding, they were able to implement a pre-employment training programme to encourage ladies back to work, called ‘Step on to Buses.’

The syllabus includes four weeks of industry specific training to assist women in completing the CPC and provides career development training to help boost confidence and business skills. Already it has successfully trained 45 women to become bus and coach drivers with some gaining employment as a result of successful work placement. It has the industry support of major groups such as trentbarton, First Group, Arriva, TfL and Merseytravel.

Simon admits that ‘the challenge has been how to encourage more women in to the industry?’

So, what other challenges will People 1st be facing in the future and what are their plans for the coach and bus industry?

‘When you think that there are over 6,000 bus and coach operators, creating over 180,000 jobs, that’s an awful lot of training. The challenge is that the core funding has now stopped, but this is a positive as People 1st will be able to provide training and services that the industry wants. We can do more research and go back to basics and pull out all the key data. We can help to guide employers and government and offer demand lead vocational training. The income that we generate will be re-invested back in to the industry to ensure that we can continue to support employers. Like with our apprenticeship schemes, we are allowing the senior people to make the decisions.’

Following the Government’s launch of a second phase of apprenticeship trailblazers in March this year, People 1st was nominated to manage the development of these for the hospitality, aviation, retail and travel industries. As the second phase is now heading towards completion, they are looking towards the passenger transport industry and People 1st and the CPT are talking to employers from the bus and coach sector to gather information on those interested in taking part in trailblazer 3. Any organisation that would like to participate should contact Annette Allmark, Director of Strategic Policy at People 1st, on [email protected] to register their interest.


People 1st was born from the old Industrial Training Board which was consolidated in to 25 sector skills councils. Their primary focus was ‘to provide medium to long-term vocational skills, now and in the future to the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industries.’ Go Skills was the sector skills council for passenger transport and when the government significantly reduced funding to the skills councils, Go Skills sought help. They were impressed with the WorldHost Customer Service programme that People 1st developed for the UK, in particular for the training of the Games Makers in preparation for London 2012 and on 4th July 2011, they formally merged.

To find out more about People 1st, visit their new website





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