A TEACHER who swapped the classroom for a life on the buses is encouraging other women to get on board.
Bus firm Go North East wants to hire an army of 300 women drivers to run services across the region.
Just eight per cent of the company’s 1,600 drivers are women, and the firm believes this is because ladies think it’s a difficult, male-only job.
Lisa Ellerington, 45, from Hebburn, a former PE teacher, is fronting the recruitment drive.
“I wanted to show I could break into a man’s world and do well,” she said. “I absolutely love bus driving.”
Lisa was on the look out for teaching jobs when she saw the advert for bus drivers, and says she’s never been happier since getting behind the wheel.
“I’ve always loved driving and I said to my husband ‘I can do that,’ and a big part of why I applied is because I wanted to prove to myself I could turn my hand to any vehicle.
“I love my massive window and being out and about and you get to meet so many different people, they’re fab. I have a good rapour with the passengers and I get loads that say ‘ooh, a woman driver, it’s lovely to see’ and the main question I get asked is ‘what do you do for the toilet?’!
She added: “I’ve never looked back. It was the positive change I was looking for.
“I get to go to lots of different places that I didn’t even know existed. I’d recommend the job to anyone.”
Kevin Carr, managing director at Go North East, said the company, which employs 2,100 in total, has taken a “fresh approach” to recruitment.
Rather than looking for driving experience, Go North East is looking for people with “a flair for customer service” – no previous professional driving experience is necessary.
He said: “Women are significantly under-represented in our workforce so we are really keen to get more women drivers on board.
“If you are looking for a change in career and would like to break away from an office or retail job and get out and about on the roads with us, come and have a go at driving a bus, you might surprise yourself.
“There are plenty of career progression opportunities and we offer a company pension and free bus travel for drivers and their families.”
The driver vacancies are available at eight depot locations in Sunderland, Washington, Chester-le-Street, Gateshead, Hexham, North Shields, Peterlee and Stanley.
The firm, the largest bus company in the North East, provides free, fully-paid bus driver training to gain a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) licence.
Mr Carr said applicants only needed to have held a clean driving licence that has been held for at least 12 months – and “a passion for working with the general public”.
For more information about joining Go North East, visit www.simplygo.com/employment