When I started working for the world of public transport about 20 years ago, the job market was quite different from the current one. For many years, being a bus driver or working in a maintenance workshop has been an aspiration for many people.

As HR Managers, we grew up with the certainty that there would always be workers willing to join our companies in these positions and that we would never have problems finding this type of professional.

Today’s situation is completely reversed.

Public transport companies are facing a never-before-seen recruitment crisis. The factors that brought us tothis point are many.

Among all: the loss of prestige of driver and mechanic professions, people’s greater needs for work-life balance, and the new aspirations of those who enter the labour market. In other words: driving or repairing a bus does not concern young people anymore.Companies in the sector are now standing at attention:if we donot adequately find effective solutions, we will no longer be able to adequately respond to the demand for public transport within fiveyears.


Arriva Italia, the Arriva Group Italian branch, starting from the assumption that a change in talent attraction is needed, decided to look outside the box and find new solutions. We started withan analysis of the actual context, and the main evidence that we found are:

• There are few people with the driving license who can drive our buses.

• Lack of educational provision in the school system.

• Costs to be incurred to obtain adriving license are very high and out of reach for many people.

• Even if public transportation for social and ecological impact is fundamental, ourbusiness has little“prestige.”

• Candidates demand a new work-life balance, different from the one we have offered to our workers to date.

Based on this evidence, we looked for new solutions that would allow us to build an effective strategyand enable us to overcome the constraints given by the context. Our strategy? TheArriva Academies.

The Arriva Academies

In 2021 we decided to tackle the difficulties with two projects that truly think beyond: the “Drivers Academy”and the “Maintenance Academy”- two separate projects that arise from the same principle: if we can’t find something outside Arriva, then we will create it inside Arriva.

The objective of the academies is to train people in the roles that are of greatest interest to us, in particular drivers and mechanics, in order to create a pool of candidates and increase the interest in our business.We had two different targets:

• The Mechanics’ Academy was mostly aimed at students from high schoolinterested in mechanics. We discovered that even if they studied mechanics and enjoyed it, the mechanics of heavy vehicles was not concerned in their mindset because the training path isalways focused on cars and bikes.

• The Driver Academy was directed to unemployed people or to those who wanted to change their job and become drivers but did not have enough resources to do it by themselves.

“Attracting, training, onboarding, and developing new talents will be the new rules of the coming years.”

This was a win-to-win strategy both for participants and for Arriva. Plus, most importantly, these projects have a big social impact giving new opportunities and skills to participants to be valued in Arriva or in other Companies: therefore, part of the projects wasfinanced by regional governmentsand institutions.

We did not do this alone: we collaborated with the best partners from different sectors and expertise: bus manufacturers, maintenance service providers, training schools, and foundations.

The main pillars of our offer are:

• A communication campaign on the social role of Public Transport

• Coverage of costs for obtaining licenses and certifications

• Company-specific training courses

• Financial support during the training period

• Housing

• Recruitment at the end of the course

• Definition of work solutions adapted to people’s wishes

• Recognition of supplementary elements of remuneration

• Close collaboration with PTAs to raise awareness of the social role of these Jobs

The Results

To date, we completed two Mechanics Academies and five Drivers Academies in different locations (Bergamo, Udine, Trieste), and the results have been over expectations.

Between participants, we planned more than 50 hires by the end of 2022. This is a significant achievement that stimulates us to improve our offer and to always identify new initiatives to attract young people.

Attracting, training, onboarding, and developing will be the new rules of the coming years. These are steps that those who work in the HR world know well – this is no news – but I have the belief that today we must look at them differently and find new ways to implement them.

Today, more than ever, HR plays a fundamental role in business strategy.