In late 2021, the Victorian Department of Transport awarded the Melbourne Bus Franchise to operator and Volgren partner, Kinetic. The announcement was a vote of confidence in Melbourne-made buses, and allowed Volgren to invest in a range of new jobs and commit to a dozen new apprenticeships.
Under the Melbourne Bus Franchise supply agreement, Kinetic will introduce 36, Volgren-bodied, battery electric buses, plus more than 100 Volgren-bodied hybrid buses by mid-2025
Thiago Deiro, CEO of Volgren, said the Department of Transport’s decision to prioritise green transport would help reduce emissions, and that by promoting local content the Victorian Government was supporting Australian manufacturing and Victorian job creation.
We spoke with two of the apprentices that have joined Volgren as a direct result of the Melbourne Bus Franchise contract award.
Nader Salhedinne, who’s 22, started with the Dandenong-based company in March, and said he was attracted to what he could see would be rewarding work.
“I recognised that the challenging, problem-solving nature of the work that any senior electrician handles on a daily basis came with a definite sense of accomplishment. I came to develop a sense of admiration towards those in the field.
“Auto electricians are highly skilled and they love working with complex circuitry. They also have to be efficient in finding and correcting faults that may occur within a bus’s many onboard systems and computers.”
Nader says he’s appreciated the “tactful” and “concise” training and advice offered by his Volgren mentors.
“The things that set [what I’m doing at] Volgren apart from my previous endeavours would be the sense of commitment and level of understanding that everyone brings to work, day in and day out. Everyone is also very approachable and I never feel like I am neglected or left out when working with others.
“I have broadened my auto electrical and mechanical knowledge relating to the buses I have worked on. I have also become proficient in using many tools that previously I had no experience with.”
Seventeen-year-old Cameron Heaton started with Volgren just before Nader, having been lured by an opportunity to work with a company invested in Australia’s transition to zero-emission technology.
“I was stuck on what I wanted to do for my career until I was offered a job here at Volgren. This is my first apprenticeship and first experience working in a workshop.
“Over the last eight months I have been working in the chassis section of the factory. I get to see the chassis drive in, be disassembled, cut in half, extended, the bud cab built, the cab being wired up ready to be dropped on the chassis. I see the bus drive out of my section as a working vehicle.”
Cameron says he was an average school student – although excelled in IT – and decided to leave before beginning Year 12 in great part due to the interruptions caused by COVID. He hasn’t looked back since joining the bus manufacturer.
“I find the work really interesting. I took the bus to and from school every day, and I was always curious about how they work and how they’re created. You get to work on all different types of bus chassis as well – Scania hybrids, MAN, Mercedes, Volvo diesel and electric, and BYD electric.
“My favourite part of Volgren is the people. Everyone is so supportive; all they want is to see you succeed. If I make a mistake there’s no reason for me to start stressing out as they will go through the issue and teach you how to fix the problem and how to prevent it from happening again. I am already proud of the work that I have been able to achieve so far and I have an amazing team of highly skilled auto electricians to guide me through my apprenticeship and to help me to improve.”
Volgren is always looking for new apprentices. If you or someone you know might be interested in the four-year apprentice programme through Volgren, contact email@example.com