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Torquay bus driver Sam embarks on apprenticeship following grandfather’s legacy in Jet engineering

National Apprenticeship Week 2024 5-11 February

Sam Down from Torquay, has stepped into the world of bus and coach engineering maintenance with Stagecoach, mirroring the footsteps of his grandfather, who was a jet engine engineer.

Sam’s inspiration for pursuing a career in engineering comes not only from his grandfather’s career in jet engineering but also from his great grandfather who himself was an apprentice engineer for Devon General in Torquay. His great grandfather became a full engineer after his apprenticeship with Devon General, which later became Bayline and then Stagecoach. His family has had a big part to play towards his enthusiasm for vehicles as his grandma and auntie worked for Stagecoach.

Sam served in the army for six and a half years as a vehicle support specialist before joining Stagecoach as a bus driver in Torquay. He discovered his passion for mechanical work and decided to take on the ‘Mechelec’ apprenticeship scheme at Stagecoach’s Plymouth depot, combining mechanical and electrical qualifications.

Reflecting on his journey so far, Sam said: “What I learn at college I bring back to the depot with me. Everyone has been really supportive; I can ask questions, and people are helpful, giving advice and sitting down to go through things with me. I would recommend an apprenticeship; you learn valuable skills, knowledge, and gain experience on the way.”

Sam officially commenced his advanced apprenticeship at Stagecoach’s Plymouth depot in October 2023, eager to make his mark in the field of engineering.

He added: “When I have finished, I would like to stay at Stagecoach, grow in my role, hopefully become a manager and lead my own team. I was a driver previously and I would say that if you are offered an opportunity to move across to a new career then go for it and it’s good to keep engineering alive! I’m so proud to carry on my family legacy as an engineer and it really means a lot.”

Stagecoach offers two distinct apprenticeship programs, ‘Mechelec’ and Body/Coachbuilder, providing a comprehensive foundation for individuals seeking a career in bus and coach engineering. Sam studies through the GTG Training Centre in Wolverhampton which delivers apprenticeships for the automotive industry.

Peter Knight Stagecoach Managing Director said: “The ‘Mechelec’ apprenticeship, offered by Stagecoach, spans four years and involves a blend of college learning and hands-on training. This unique approach allows apprentices like Sam to apply theoretical knowledge directly to their work at the Society of Operations Engineers, enriching their skill set and understanding.”

He added: “As part of National Apprenticeship Week 2024 we are highlighting how our engineers play a pivotal role in maintaining and ensuring the safe operation of our fleet and want to inspire those that may be thinking about an apprenticeship to give it a go.”

Apprentices benefit from mentorship throughout the program, receiving guidance from fully trained mentors. Upon successful completion of the training, apprentices are awarded an Advanced Apprenticeship in Bus and Coach Engineering Maintenance and have the opportunity to become members of the Society of Operations Engineers.

For more information about Stagecoach apprenticeship programs and career opportunities, please visit