Wrightbus to recruit 80 new apprentices as workforce reaches 1,600

Wide angle view of the Wrightbus factory floor where people work on shells of double-decker buses. There is a circle inset image with two apprentices posing.
The Wrightbus factory floor in Ballymena and (inset) Hannah Currie and Nathan Lawrence.

Ballymena bus manufacturer Wrightbus has said it will recruit 80 new apprentices as the business continues to expand in the UK and Europe.

The company, which has been repurposed as a hydrogen and battery electric specialist since Jo Bamford stepped in to buy it out of administration in 2019, now employs more than 1,600 people.

Around 1,200 workers lost their jobs when the bus manufacturer collapsed in September 2019.

Wrightbus said it currently has around 50 apprentices on its books, but wants to recruit another 80 as part of national apprenticeship week.

With no upper age limit, anyone aged 16 or over can apply, with places open across departments including coachbuilding, electricians, driveline, spray painting, and welding.

Jean-Marc Gales, who took over as Wrightbus chief executive in April 2023, said: “Over the last few years Wrightbus has continued to grow and expand in the UK, the island of Ireland and across Europe.

“Our apprentices already make a valuable contribution to our work and now we have excellent opportunities for more candidates who are ready to kick start their careers while gaining recognised qualifications, invaluable work experience and earning as they learn.”

Wrightbus apprentices including Hannah Currie, third left, and Nathan Lawrence, fourth left.
Wrightbus apprentices including Hannah Currie, third left, and Nathan Lawrence, fourth left. (BRAVE&ABEL)

Hannah Currie, who is in her second year of a higher level apprenticeship foundation degree in engineering - mechanical, said: “I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship at Wrightbus. If you want to go far in the company, there are opportunities to progress even further.

“There is a world of knowledge to be learned throughout the apprenticeship, with many new skills taught in different areas.”

Nathan Lawrence, a manufacturing technician who completed his level 3 NVQ in coach building, added: “I have really enjoyed developing working relationships with my teammates, and also getting to understand new technologies such as hydrogen and electric vehicles.

“It’s a real job where you gain real experience, and it is an incredibly interesting place to work with the latest developments in zero emission technologies on show.”

Partnering with Northern Regional College as training provider, year one apprentices study level one engineering, gaining NVQ level two and city and guilds level two.

After completing level two engineering, each apprentice can continue to progress to higher levels.

“The apprenticeship programmes on offer provide the opportunity to earn as you learn, gain recognised qualifications, and begin a career journey where the sky’s the limit,” said Jean-Marc Gales.

The open night will take place on February 13 (5.30pm to 7.30pm).