Ukrainian evacuee is first to be employed as bus driver via recruitment scheme

A Ukrainian evacuee in the UK has become the first to be employed as a bus driver through a recruitment scheme.

Volodymyr Syrotiuk, 61, worked in a warehouse and drove heavy goods vehicles near Kyiv before the invasion by Russia in February 2022.

He has since settled in Brighton and has joined Brighton and Hove Buses as a driver.

Parent company Go-Ahead began taking steps to hire Ukrainians in November last year in a programme supported by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Government has eased the process for Ukrainians to exchange their driving licences for British versions.

Ukrainian refugee Volodymyr Syrotiuk
The Government has made it easier for Ukrainian refugees to convert their driving licences to British versions (James Pike Photography/Go-Ahead Group/PA)

Mr Syrotiuk said his new job has made “settling into the country easier”.

He went on: “I’d encourage my friends from Ukraine to come here and to seriously consider being a bus driver like me.

“I get to be in a position where I’m responsible for 80 people every journey and it’s satisfying.”

The UK has suffered from a lack of bus drivers since the end of coronavirus lockdowns.

Industry body the Confederation of Passenger Transport recently estimated that 7% of bus driver positions are vacant.

Brighton and Hove Buses managing director Ed Wills said: “We’re extremely happy to welcome Volodymyr to the team.

“As a company we can offer jobs to people from Ukraine who are looking to rebuild a more peaceful life.

“I hope this is the first of many to come, and that we continue to be able to help more refugees like Volodymyr find work and security in the UK.”

Eloise Cornish, employer adviser lead at Brighton and Hove Jobcentre, said: “We’re thrilled to hear about Volodymyr’s job start with Brighton and Hove Buses.

“We met Volodymyr at a jobs fair and his positive attitude shone through.”