Preparing for the IRTE Skills Challenge

With the 2024 edition of the IRTE Bus & Coach Skills Challenge just around the corner, the final preparations are being made by organisers, competitors and sponsors alike

With leading names in the bus and coach world preparing their technicians to compete at the IRTE Skills Challenge, final preparations are being made for the event, held in Bristol in June.

One of those names is Alexander Dennis: it is returning as a premium sponsor of the event and will have a show-stopper of its own at the event. “This year, we are bringing our latest Enviro100EV next-generation electric bus to showcase our commitment to advancing sustainable transportation solutions,” confirms Geoff Range, training instructor at Alexander Dennis.

Alexander Dennis is leading the transition to zero-emission mobility with a wide range of low- and zero-emission technologies and invests in its people and communities at its manufacturing and AD24 aftermarket centres across the country. As a returning premium sponsor, Alexander Dennis will hold a significant role in the eagerly awaited 2024 IRTE Bus & Coach Skills Challenge.

In an effort to bring practical challenges to the forefront, Alexander Dennis will unveil two new challenges – one electrical on the bus and the other a body fault on the Ventura door training rig.


“We are proud to introduce two exciting challenges to the IRTE Skills Challenge this year. The first involves diagnosing and rectifying an electrical fault on a bus supplied by us. The second challenge centres around identifying and addressing a body fault using our miniature bus door Ventura rig,” says Range. “At Alexander Dennis, we understand the importance of engineers receiving up-to-date training, especially with the rapid emergence of technologies such as zero-emission drivelines. The IRTE Skills Challenge provides a unique platform for engineers to demonstrate their skills and stand out in their respective disciplines.

“Our challenges are designed to be demanding, encouraging teams to showcase their problem-solving abilities,” adds Range. “We look forward to witnessing their skills and expertise on display at the 2024 IRTE Skills Challenge!”

Other premium sponsors for the event include VARTA by Clarios and Freeway, which is introducing a digital inspection module into the proceedings. One of the core values of the IRTE Skills Challenge is around sustainability and safety. Therefore, as the transition to digital inspections reduces paper waste, it enhances accuracies and ensures data and communication integrity. This hands-on experience can boost participants’ skills and prepare them for the evolving demands of the engineering industry.

“The IRTE Bus & Coach Skills Challenge is a testament to the exceptional skills and dedication of professionals in the bus and coach industry and we are honoured to be a part of it,” says Patrick Tandy, managing director at Freeway, which is also one of the event sponsors. “At Freeway, we share a passion for advancing the standards of excellence in transportation and this sponsorship allows us to support and engage with the talented individuals who drive innovation in our field.”


Lothian Buses has a history stretching back over 100 years and today operates safe and reliable public transport across Edinburgh and the Lothians. As the UK’s largest municipal bus company, the company employs over 2,500 individuals, solidifying its position as one of Edinburgh’s major employers.

Since 2017, Lothian has actively participated in the IRTE Bus & Coach Skills Challenge, driven by a desire to benchmark its engineers’ capabilities against their peers nationwide. By fostering a culture of best practices and innovation, Lothian aims to further elevate its already renowned standards within the industry.

Looking at the technical aspects of the event, Lothian says it consistently invests in technology to ensure that its people have the right tools for the job. “Lothian’s fleet is among the youngest in the UK, and our engineers are familiar with working with the latest technologies,” says the company. "We also work closely with manufacturers to ensure we keep up with the continual advancing technologies and provide adequate training, ensuring our teams are always on the front foot of this ever-evolving industry.

“As a business, we are in the process of making changes to our existing fleet with the purchase of 50 new Volvo BZL electric double-deck buses which will help reduce Lothian’s carbon footprint and help drive the business towards meeting our Net Zero goal.”


There are 16 awards with categories for individuals (apprentices and technicians), teams and managers. Therefore, the IRTE Bus & Coach Skills Challenge provides a great opportunity to boost team spirit and morale.

Award categories

■ Bodywork Apprentice

■ Electric Driveline Apprentice

■ Electrical Apprentice

■ Mechanical Apprentice

■ Mechelec

■ Outstanding Apprentice Team

■ DVSA Inspection Apprentice

■ DVSA Inspection Technician

■ Bodywork Technician

■ Electrical Technician

■ Electric Driveline Technician

■ Mechanical Technician

■ Master Technician

■ Outstanding Qualified Team

■ Philp Margrave Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement

■ Judges' Choice



Advance your skills: the IRTE Bus & Coach Skills Challenge 2024 offers a platform for both novice and experienced bus and coach technicians to enhance their skills. Get hands-on experiences across various technical domains and broaden expertise.

Exposure to new technology: with sponsors such as Alexander Dennis, VARTA and Freeway shaping the challenge, be the first to get exposure to future-defining technologies.

Challenge yourself: step away from your day-to-day routine and push your limits with new tools and technology.

Meet others in this space: network and connect with a diverse community of like-minded bus and coach engineers from different backgrounds and experiences. It's your opportunity to build valuable professional connections and share knowledge.

Team building: the challenge is an incredible opportunity to come together as a team, solve technical challenges and boost team morale – an experience you can translate into your future career.

Industry recognition: showcase your skills and winners are profiled in Transport Engineer. Get recognition for your technical prowess and increase your chances of career progression.

Champion the engineering career: support our goal of empowering the next generation of technicians in the bus and coach sector and be part of an initiative that can help fill the skills gap.

Stay on top of industry trends: not only will you have hands-on exposure to the technology, but you also get to meet the makers behind it, learn from them about their vision and what the future holds in bus and coach engineering.

Professional Development: invest in your long-term career growth by learning from the best including our judges, regulators, change makers and the wider SOE community.

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