East Lancashire's main bus firm has launched a new skills drive to beat a national shortage of engineers.

Transdev has linked up with Manchester-based apprenticeships provider Total People to unveil a new ‘SkillUp’ programme to keep its vehicles on the road,

The pioneering joint initiative to tackle the UK’s shortage of expert engineers aims attract newcomers and career switchers into the workshops.

Transdev - which operates the Blackburn, Burnley and Rossendale bus companies - wants to give more of its staff, including those switching from other roles, the industry standard qualification they need to build a successful career in its workshops.

It’s hoped the new engineers will lead Transdev’s evolving drive towards electric power by gaining specialist knowledge needed to maintain the latest battery-powered buses.

SkillUp is also offering semi-skilled people who already have workshop experience the opportunity to complete a fast-track one year course to boost their knowledge and skills.

Rosso’s engineering manager Michael Toner, who already holds a Level 2 NVQ in Engineering, has joined the drive.

He said: “My aim is to step up my skills to the next level, through training for a Level 3 NVQ qualification.

"My experience goes back to 2014 when I joined Rosso’s predecessor Rossendale Transport as a driver on schools and Sunday work.

"In between I was offered the role of day vehicle shunter in the garage, which led to me becoming an engineering workshop planner, and then, engineering manager.

“Rosso driver Richard Berry and day vehicle shunter Nigel Taylor will join me on the one year fast-track course, so we should end up with three fully trained engineers."

Transdev operations director Vitto Pizzuti said: “The shortage of fully trained engineers is currently affecting the whole UK transport industry, not just bus operators.

“As we head towards an electric future, promising trainee engineers are going to be vital on our road ahead."