A young apprentice at leading civil engineering firm Jones Bros has been short-listed for a top industry award from a record number of entrants.
James Symon is in the running for the Apprentice of the Year in the Construction News Specialists Awards 2016 after his enthusiasm and commitment impressed his managers who nominated him.
James, a plant operative apprentice from Aberdare, South Wales, has been honing his skills on the Pen y Cymoedd Wind Energy Project since being recruited on to its apprenticeship scheme in April 2014.
It is a dream come true for the 21-year-old, whose future was looking bleak less than two years ago when he was made redundant from a temporary job in a retail store.
“I’m over the moon, I can’t believe it, I feel like I have a bright future now with lots of opportunities and doors are opening,” said James. “I don’t think the award nomination has sunk in yet.”
After leaving school James worked in a factory, before securing temporary work at a high street fashion store. After being made redundant his options were limited until he heard that apprentices were being recruited to train at a flagship development to construct England and Wales’ largest wind farm.
James applied and when he learned he had been recruited in April 2014, he phoned his delighted family, taking the limelight from his sister Ashleigh’s 16th birthday celebrations.
“I felt a bit guilty about that but I was so happy, as were my mum Tracy and dad Gordon. There aren’t many job opportunities in this area so this has been fantastic.”
As part of his training James is learning how to master 40 tonne dumper trucks as well as compactor rollers to develop new and existing access roads across the 4,600-hectare site.
His significant contribution to the work completed so far by joint venture partners Jones Bros and Balfour Beatty on behalf of wind farm developer Vattenfall, lead to his award nomination.
“From the moment we recruited James he has impressed the trainers with his punctuality, dedication and intelligence,” said Eryl Roberts, project manager for the Jones Bros and Balfour Beatty joint venture. “James’ dedication to his role is exemplified by him never missing a day of the apprenticeship, being punctual and turning up ten minutes before he needed to, wherever he was.
“James has achieved his Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) red card in eight categories of plant and he did this with ease. He is a very competent, respectful young man who is extremely deserving of this nomination.”
During his apprenticeship, James has also been supported by Jones Bros staff Islwyn Williams, earthworks manager, Gwyn Morris, earthworks foreman and Gareth Edwards, health and safety manager who all describe him as a ‘natural.’
Richard Owen, training manager at Jones Bros, said: “We’re very committed to our apprentices, having recruited more this year than at any other time.
“The training and support they receive is second to none and James epitomises everything that is good about our apprenticeship scheme.”
The Construction News Specialists Awards celebrate the very best specialist contractors in the UK.
Construction News editor Rebecca Evans said: “Construction News is proud that our Specialists Awards are the only national awards recognising the achievements of specialist contractors, whose hard work and innovation fuels the success of the UK construction industry.”
The winners will be announced on 24 February 2016 at a ceremony at the Hilton Park Lane, London, where more than 1,000 of the industry elite will join together for a night of entertainment, celebration and networking.
Founded in the 1950s and employing 350 people, Jones Bros has grown rapidly in the last decade. It is currently working on contracts including the construction of waste management facilities, highways, flood and marine defence and renewable energy projects around the UK.