Meet the contractor: Somerset Passenger Solutions
You might be wondering what driving a bus has to do with working on the Hinkley Point C project… But transport is one of the key support services we rely on to ensure the site runs smoothly. We caught up with Faye Johnson, Somerset Passenger Solutions’ Recruitment Manager, to find out what opportunities there are for anyone who’s ever wanted to get behind the wheel of a 12-metre long coach.
Q. Tell us more about Somerset Passenger Solutions (SPS)
A. We were formed in 2016 as a joint venture between First Group and JJP Holdings, to serve the passenger transport needs of Hinkley Point C. We’re the only transport provider for almost all people who go to the project either for work or on a site visit.
As part of the project commitments to the surrounding communities – to minimise the volume of traffic travelling on the roads – there are no parking spaces for staff at Hinkley Point C. Instead, Somerset Passenger Solutions (SPS) provides regular bus services to travel to and from site, and park & ride facilities across Somerset.
We operate 24/7 to ensure that construction remains on schedule. And, since we began – with 40 employees and eight vehicles – we’ve grown significantly. There are now more than 500 of us working here and 160+ buses in our fleet. This will increase further as our projects evolve and diversify.
Somerset Passenger Solutions makes over 10,000 passenger journeys, to and from HPC, every week!
Q. What job opportunities are there with Somerset Passenger Solutions?
A. The biggest opportunity we have is for trainee drivers – we’re taking on five to ten trainee drivers a month at the moment – and our recruitment for this role is currently ongoing.
The opportunities for trainee drivers are incredible; we’re giving young people a skill they didn’t have – a professional licence for life. They’re paid from day one on the job and are supported through a fantastic training programme that lasts about eight weeks.
The training is done in two parts – part one is based offsite and the second part is carried out in the SPS Academy. Here, trainee drivers learn the routes and how to operate different types of vehicles within our fleet.
Customer service is also a big part of the role as we aim to deliver a high level of service to our passengers. So all our drivers have the opportunity to achieve a Customer Service Level 2 qualification.
The training team are also here at any point if a driver needs further training or wants some advice. You can find out more about becoming a trainee driver on the HPC Jobs Service.
It’s also worth mentioning that we have apprentices at SPS – within Business Services and within mechanical engineering. Visit our website to find out more about the job opportunities available.
Q. What are the career prospects for trainee drivers?
A. As well as becoming a professional driver there are opportunities for career progression at SPS – for instance, becoming a driver trainer or moving into a supervisory or administration management role.
Our training programmes are professionally written and delivered to provide our team with the best possible driving skills and qualifications. We really do aim to grow our team from within, so our people grow and develop with us.
Sometimes there are quiet periods during the day where drivers are on standby. During these periods we offer other training and qualifications to our employees, not all of which are directly related to their role. So you could learn a new skill while driving on the HPC project. It could be a distance learning course or time helping out another team.
Q. What skills and behaviours do you look for in young people?
A. We recruit for the right personality and attitude more than anything else; however, customer service skills, experience and flexibility really help too. We can teach you the rest!
Q. What does your recruitment process involve?
A. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve modified the recruitment process slightly, and it’s working really well! The current process includes a face to face interview and a driving assessment, which are all carried out in a Covid-secure way.
It’s worth mentioning that it can take a couple of months from the start of the process to a candidate receiving their start date. For example, successful candidates will need to obtain a provisional category D entitlement on their licence before they can start work.
Interested in working on the project?
Register with the HPC Jobs Service here – where you can also find out about (and apply) for SPS’ trainee driver scheme. If you’re aged between 16-21 and not already signed up to our skills programme, Young HPC, you can register here and get exclusive access to ‘meet the employer’ events and training opportunities.