Tour operator

Tour operator launches its own coach driving training school

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Bakers Dolphin, a coach tour operator based in West Country, has decided to do something about the countrywide shortage of coach drivers in the industry. The firm, which has its head office in Weston-super-Mare, is opening a training centre for coach drivers in an attempt to lure more individuals to a career as a coach driver.

It is not known at this stage which driving school insurance firm Bakers Dolphin will select.

With the current workforce rapidly ageing, recent research revealed that not enough new drivers are currently undergoing training to replace those who move to different careers or retire. Many young people are discouraged by the cost of the CPC (Driver Certificate of Professional Competence) and the PCV (driving licence for passenger vehicles).

Bakers Dolphin said that to attract more driving recruits, it will carry the cost of the PCV training.

The man who has been chosen to coordinate training activities at the school and who is the driving force behind the training programme, Michael Blowers, recently walked away with the Coach Tour Driver of the Year award.

He has been with the firm for ten years. Before that, he was a driving instructor.

Blowers said: “Being a coach driver is an absolutely fascinating job where no two days are the same. It really suits someone who loves driving, and loves getting on with people. There’s a huge variety of work, from school contract jobs through to UK tours and European tours, including driving our superb, top-of-the-range coaches.”

He added that personally he loved UK tours, but that the company always tried to place new drivers on the work that best suited them.

The best part of his job, he said, was working with passengers, and doing his best to make sure they had a great holiday or day out – which began the moment they entered the bus. He nevertheless looked forward to his new job, which will involve developing and training new drivers.

Blowers concluded by saying that he hoped the fact that his employers were willing to carry the cost of driver training for the PCV licence would attract many others to a career in this industry. For people who enjoyed working with people it was truly an extremely enjoyable way in which to earn a salary, and one that promised many happy days ahead.

Bakers Dolphin’s MD, Max Fletcher, pointed to the nationwide dearth of drivers in the industry for the past couple of years, and said this convinced his company to act.

He added: “Hopefully a combination of us funding the training, together with an opportunity for people to learn from one of the best drivers in the business, will inspire them to consider coach driving as a career.”

The firm presently has job openings for bus and coach drivers – and the good news is that there are both full-time and part-time positions available. So, if the thought of driving a busload of happily chattering holidaymakers around the country excites you, this could be the chance of a lifetime.

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