IRTE Skills Challenge 2019_365.jpg


Fuel your engineering future  

The IRTE Bus & Skills Challenge 2024 is all about celebrating the engineers in bus and coach. It's free CPD in a nutshell.

Whether you are a beginner or qualified technician, this is an opportunity to get your hands on unfamiliar technology, push your limits and rise to the challenge.    

Through a combination of theoretical and practical tests across electrical, mechanical and bodywork, you will get to showcase what you are made of – whether individually or as a team.  

While road-testing new technology, you’ll also get to meet like-minded passionate engineers like you from all walks of life and share knowledge, experiences and ideas.  

Entry criteria
How it works
What will you be tested on?
What are the judges looking for?
Key dates 


Entry criteria 

Who should enter? 

PSV apprentices and technicians who specialise in bodywork, electrical and mechanical. 

Criteria and pre-requisites 

You must be working for a bus or coach operator. 

There are no pre-requisites or assessments you or your team need to complete before entering the challenge. However, we’ve had operators hold internal challenges/competitors to pick which teams to send to the Skills Challenge.  

How it works 

A manager from a bus or coach operator will enter their team (s) into the competition. A team must have 3 competitors – one for electrical, one for mechanical and one for bodywork.  

Each team will be allocated a day (based on their preference) where they’ll take a series of theoretical and practical tests. You are not expected to be there for the entire week.  

The competition will start at 8.00am on each day and finish no later than 5.30pm.  The Skills Testing Week is broken down as follows: 

  • 3 June – Competition Day 1  
  • 4 June - Competition Day 2  
  • 5 June – Press Day (to meet sponsors, media etc)  
  • 6 June – Competition Day 3 

What will you be tested on? 


We want to get to know the depth of your mechanical knowledge and Skills. They cover many areas including Engines, Transmissions and drivelines, Braking systems and components, Steering and suspensions systems and Wheels & Tyres to name just a few. These individual tasks will vary in time and complexity levels. 


Using everything from wiring diagrams and multimeters to computer diagnostics, we have everyday component and system faults for you to fault find and rectify. The tests are designed to check basic circuit knowledge as well as complex systems. Electrical diagnostics are all about processes and we examine the way you find a fault rather than just the result. 


Often forgotten is the body side of the industry, you play a key part in keeping the UK buses on the road. You will be assessed on many areas during the Skills Challenge which will include, but not limited to: Fabrication, Welding, Bonding, Panel repairs, Bus materials and construction. 

Marking criteria 

Health and safety are obviously key points and play a part in the marking of every assessment. As well as the correct answers we are also looking at the process you took to get there. So, a shortcut to get the correct result may not get full marks and on the other hand, if you carry out all the steps leading to the result and just give a wrong answer you will get points along the way for every correct step. If there are measurements involved, you will be given a tolerance and the answer and there may be multiple marks for some key areas. 

What are the judges looking for this year?

Judges are looking for logical thought process, correct implementation of that process and the accuracy of the recording of that. So, think about what you are going to do and how you are going to approach it before you start. 

For diagnostic tasks judges will be looking for a good understanding of the areas of the test and that you can relate this understanding to a good diagnostic procedure. 

If the task involves a mechanical process for example Valve Clearances, then the correct procedure together with the accuracy of the clearances will be a valuable part of the marking criteria. 


The judges will consider the scores and decide winners who will be announced at the awards lunch in July 2024, location tbc.  

There are 16 awards with categories for individuals (apprentices and technicians), teams and managers. So, it’s an incredible opportunity to boost your team spirit and morale.   

Award categories are as follows: 

  1. Bodywork Apprentice 
  2. Electric Driveline Apprentice 
  3. Electrical Apprentice 
  4. Mechanical Apprentice 
  5. Mechelec 
  6. Outstanding Apprentice Team 
  7. DVSA Inspection Apprentice Award 
  8. DVSA Inspection Technician Award  
  9. Bodywork Technician 
  10. Electrical Technician 
  11. Electric Driveline Technician 
  12. Mechanical Technician 
  13. Master Technician
  14. Outstanding Qualified Team 
  15. Philp Margrave Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement 
  16. Judges' Choice 

Key dates 

  • Registrations open: 9th January 2024 
  • Deadline to enter: 15th May 2024 
  • Deadline to submit the names of your teams: 15th May 2024 
  • Skills testing Week: 3 – 7 June 2024, S&B Automotive Academy, Bristol  
  • Skills Challenge Awards Lunch: July 2024 


All participants will receive a certificate of attendance at the Skills Testing Week.  

All finalists will be invited to an awards lunch with a three course meal, a chance to network and connect with other competitors, manufacturers and decision makers as well as engage in photo/media opportunities.  

Winners will take home: 

  • A trophy 
  • Free SOE membership  
  • A sponsored prize (TBC)  

Click here to view the full terms and conditions.