Latest IRTE Skills Challenge a roaring success

Competition was fierce at the IRTE Skills Challenge, staged at the S&B Automotive Academy in Bristol last week (29—31 May 2013).
Sponsored by Allison Transmission, BAE Systems, Bridgestone, Knorr-Bremse and Shell Lubricants, the challenge saw bus operators from across the country showcasing their technicians' abilities in a series of mechanical, electrical and bodywork tests. The IRTE Skills Challenge is now in its third year, with 50-plus technicians taking up the challenge this time. Tests ranged from transmission and EBS fault finding, to tyre examination, panel fabrication and structural bonding. Testing was assisted by buses donated by vehicle sponsors MAN, Scania and Volvo, which provided a CitySmart 14: 250, a Scania Omni-link, and a Volvo 9700 coach, respectively. "Throughout the testing, the candidates were a credit to their companies," states Richard Belton, deputy chief executive of S&B Automotive Academy. "They were able to demonstrate their skills in the tasks set for them by the sponsors of IRTE Skills Challenge and show to the world that bus operators are making the investment in developing their workforce skills to match the advancing technical requirements of the industry." Nick Jones, chief executive of IRTE's umbrella organisation SOE (Society of Operations Engineers) says: "Bus technicians are responsible for keeping public vehicles safe and reliable on the UK's roads. The IRTE Skills Challenge highlights the entire bus industry and represents IRTE's key aims of supporting, recognising and rewarding technical excellence." Robert Horne, from First Devon & Cornwall took part in the competition for the first time this year and says: "I was nervous as I didn't know what to expect but the day has flown by. So far, I think I've done reasonably well – we'll see in July." The winning technicians and apprentices will be announced during the IRTE Skills Challenge ceremony on 18 July. Winners receive top prizes donated by Halfords Trade.

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