Matthew


about my placement…


Course: BSc Transport Management – 2021/22 Placement Year
Placement: Commercial Assistant – National Express West Midlands Buses

In my placement at National Express West Midlands Buses, I have been introduced to all aspects of the company’s operation, from staff on the ground in garages to those in the Head Office. Each with a very different role but all equally as vital in keeping the cogs of the company turning.

In terms of my individual responsibilities, every day is different. I have been primarily involved with handling data requests from other staff within the department. I have been undertaking research on passenger numbers, average speeds and other metrics of successful bus operation to allow the service we provide to our passengers to be as good as it possibly can be. As well as identifying any areas of concern for addressing. 

Other interesting tasks that I have been involved in, include attending meetings with department directors to discuss the current driver shortage that is being experienced across all UK transport sectors, but is increasingly becoming more pressing in the bus industry. During these meetings, we took everything back to the drawing board and broke down all the barriers to completely re-envisage the issue in an attempt to find some solutions to implement. Ideas from these meetings are currently being worked on prior to launching. 

In addition to this, I have also been heavily involved with contributing to the West Midlands BSIP (Bus Service Improvement Plan), which looks at how to improve bus services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been an interesting experience allowing me to understand the links between governance organisations and transport providers, as well as honing my proof reading, analytical and critical thinking skills. 


In the next step of my placement, I will be put through the bus driver training school, learning how to drive a bus. This promises to be an exciting experience and a lot of fun. The overall aim for me is, being able to complete overtime driving buses around my normal day job, in both evenings and weekends whilst in my final year at Uni. This will allow me to help ease the driver shortage, while only making a very small impact, any improvement on the service level we can offer to our passengers can only be a positive thing.

I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of my placement year at National Express West Midlands holds and taking advantage of as many opportunities as I can. 

My advice for students seeking placements would be to not be afraid of seeking out companies for yourselves rather than just relying on adverts for existing roles. While it can be daunting and a lengthy process, the worst a company can say is no and you may be lucky. Like in my case and be able to convince a company to create a placement role that you can apply for, and fingers crossed will be successful in securing. Additionally, apply for a range of roles and keep your options open. Any placement will provide you with invaluable experience that you can take back to Uni and then into work. However, it definitely helps if your placement role is in an industry which you have an interest and passion for. This means going to work shouldn’t feel like a chore and you will be able to maximise your experience and learning. 

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