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How we helped Abby to follow in her father’s foot-pedals

Posted: 01.09.2021

Imagine you’re an eighteen-year-old woman and your dad and brother are both bus drivers for the same company where over ninety-per cent of their drivers are men (consistent with the industry average). Imagine that social norms mean you’ve been gently steered towards careers more popular with your gender. Like hair and beauty. Yet imagine you harbour a love of driving. Always have. Always will. Ever since you were age 7 and your dad bought a PlayStation replete with steering wheel and pedals and in no time, you were beating everyone in your family at Disney ‘Cars’. Some days you even joke to your dad “one day I’ll be a bus driver like you”. But you don’t really mean it.

What do you do? Abby Griffiths from Llanrwst, North Wales, our secret wannabe driver, became a waitress and cleaner.

And there this story might have ended. Were it not for the combined forces of Job Centre Plus and North Wales Training.

When Wales went into lockdown earlier this year Abby soon went on to Universal Credit. This put her in contact with her local Job Centre Plus with whom we have a relationship. Serendipitously, Job Centre Plus told Abby that Llew Jones International, the local bus company, were taking on bus drivers, conditional on them completing driver training. Would Abby like to take the offer up? Albeit with a catch – her bus driving licence would somehow need to be funded and it would cost over £1,000.

Thinking this might be fate intervening Abby agreed and began to spend one day per week learning every aspect of the job. Seeing the potential to help Abby achieve her dream we assigned her very own pit crew, in the form of employability officer Pauline Quinn. Pauline immediately set to work oiling the wheels, finding funding from the Welsh Government to pay for Abby’s licence, supplying her with a uniform and protective equipment, and phoning her every week to make sure she was informed and felt supported.

So, when Abby took the wheel of a 15-metre-long bus for the first time, promptly telling her instructor “I can’t do this” we knew she could. And we were as happy as she and her dad was when she passed her test and officially joined the ranks of Llew Jones’ small band of female bus drivers, as well becoming one of its youngest.

Despite the challenges of the job Abby says she “absolutely loves it” and is proud to carry on the family tradition. Abby sees this as just the start, too. He next goal is to drive Llew Jones coaches abroad, as second driver to her dad – or could that be the other way round?

We at North Wales Training are thrilled for Abby and glad to have played our part in helping her achieve her first career milestone at so young an age and challenge a few social norms along the way (isn’t it time we had more female bus drivers?).

If you too are secretly harbouring a job goal you reckon you were cut out for, despite what anyone else thinks, and just need some help to kickstart it, North Wales Training could be just your ticket.