Skills Challenge returns

Registrations are now open for the latest edition of the IRTE Skills Challenge. The annual competition aims to find the best bus and coach technicians and apprentices in the UK and Ireland. Founded by the Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE) in 2011, the competition itself is held at S&B Automotive Academy in Bristol. It involves theoretical and practical assessments in mechanical, electrical and bodywork categories, with a particular focus on safety and compliance. Last year’s event attracted 50 competitors from ten operators, including Arriva, Translink and Metroline, with a team from FirstGroup taking home the overall top prize.

Sponsored by Allison Transmission, Bridgestone, Groeneveld, Knorr-Bremse and Shell, testing for the competition will take place in the week commencing 6 June 2016. Operators are invited to enter teams of three technicians/apprentices by 31 March 2016. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in July. Entry to the competition is free and a registration form for operators can be found at

Ray Silcox, a member of last year’s winning team from FirstGroup, said, ‘Testing was very professionally done, and very hard; there were lots of challenges to undertake and I enjoyed it a lot. I think it’s worthwhile because it gives technicians and apprentices a chance to shine and show their skills, and gives them kudos if they win. It also shows that managers have faith in them by putting them forward for the Challenge.’

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