Birmingham taxi and private hire drivers are going the extra mile to offer top quality customer service by picking up new qualifications through national skills service Train to Gain.

More than 200 cabbies are en route to being ranked top of their trade when it comes to offering ‘added value’ over and above a safe journey and there are plans to extend the scheme further.

Access for disabled people and luggage handling are among areas covered in the training, delivered by South Birmingham College in 12 weekly sessions.

Driver Mohammad Pandhair, 47, of Erdington, said: “Some people think taxi drivers are second class citizens.  This training means we have a status, recognised by the public and by employers. We have knowledge, skills, pride in the job we do and we have certificates to prove it.”

After completing the programme, Erdington mum-of-five Wendy Ritchie qualified as an assessor and now helps other drivers acquire new skills.

“As a single parent, the flexibility of being able to study at home meant I could fit it around the kids,” says the 47-year-old. “I’m really enjoying working with other drivers, watching them grow in confidence and taking a real pride in their jobs.”

Keith Selvey, assistant director for transport at South Birmingham College, said: “Taxi drivers have such an important role to play in terms of adding value to the city’s economy through good customer service.

“Birmingham is already an international destination and, with an eye to the Olympics in four years’ time, it’s right that we should offer a world class passenger vehicle service – helping taxi drivers develop the right skills is part of achieving that goal.”

For more information about Train to Gain, visit