IRTE Skills Challenge 2012 hailed a great success

Competition was fierce last week when S&B Automotive Academy in Bristol hosted the IRTE Skills Challenge 2012.
Sponsored by Allison Transmission, Arriva, Bridgestone, Delphi, Halfords Trade, Knorr-Bremse, MAN, Scania and Shell Lubricants, the competition saw 14 bus and coach operators from across the UK showcasing their technicians' abilities in a series of mechanical, electrical and bodywork tests. Aimed at demonstrating the importance of the technicians who keep the bus and coach industry moving, the IRTE Skills Challenge is now in its second year and growing steadily, with entries up almost threefold from last year. Nick Jones, chief executive of organising body the IRTE, says: "Bus and coach technicians play a vital role in society. Their work has been overlooked for too long, and this competition truly celebrates and recognises skills, while highlighting their daily achievements to the wider public." Competing technician Gavin Knights, 25, from Ipswich Buses took part in the Skills Challenge last year and is clearly a big fan: "It does really get your mind working," he says. "It's also good to know what sort of people are working out there in other companies." Northern Ireland operator Translink took home two of the awards in 2011, and technical engineer David Carson intends to lead his team to equal success this time around. "We are proud of the work our employees do. However, the IRTE Skills Challenge gives them the opportunity to demonstrate and showcase their engineering and technical expertise and pitch their skills against other major players in the transport industry," he says. Competing for the first time this year, the London Borough of Redbridge believes the competition will prove the competency of its engineers. "The technicians at the London Borough of Redbridge have been irtec registered for a number of years now, which has helped us achieve Ford Authorised Repairer status," reveals borough engineering manager Eddie Cross. "But, as a large portion of our fleet is passenger carrying, we feel this is a good opportunity to challenge our team and promote our skills with others in the industry," he adds. The practical elements of the competition are based on the IRTE's technician licensing scheme, irtec, and the winners will be announced during a ceremony in late July. Other competitors taking part in the IRTE Skills Challenge include Arriva, Bluestar Bus, MoD, Go-Ahead, Trent Barton and Wilts & Dorset Bus Company.

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