Two apprentices with North Wales civil engineering company Jones Bros have scooped top awards.
Josh Wyn Roberts was Most Promising Apprentice and Rhys Roberts was runner up in the Most Promising Trainee Civil Engineer category in the prestigious Civil Engineering Contractors Association Wales awards (CECA).
Delighted Josh said the £250 first prize and winner’s title, was a complete surprise: “I didn’t know I’d been entered until a week before the ceremony. I was amazed to win.”
Not so surprised was his Jones Bros site manager, Mike Stevenson, who said: “I’ve been in the business 35 years and Josh is one of the best apprentices I’ve worked with. He shows initiative, has the skills capabilities and exactly the right proactive attitude. I’m delighted for him.”
Josh, 19, was recruited onto the acclaimed Jones Bros trainee scheme 18 months ago. The company has been at the forefront of quality apprenticeships for 40 years and continues taking on young recruits. At the start of 2012 it enrolled six apprentices for specialist training as plant operators. It was the third group to be recruited in 12 months despite the difficult economic climate.
Josh said: "It’s a great firm to work for and offers a broad spectrum of training opportunities. I feel very lucky to be part of the Jones Bros team."
Currently working on a contract at a landfill site in Bletchley, he relishes working on different projects around the UK. Jones Bros has contracts stretching from north Scotland to southern England.
"Here at Bletchley I’ve mainly been doing muck shifting jobs, driving one of the diggers. I look forward to one day tackling some of the biggest excavators on our sites," said Josh.
Most weekends he travels home to Bala, where he lives with his mum, Becky Roberts. His elder sister, Jessica, is a medical student at Southampton University.
Rhys, a former pupil of Ysgol Berwyn, Bala, is attached to the Jones Bros base in Inverness, one of two branch offices the company has in Scotland, where it is working on a number of contracts, mainly building infrastructure for wind farms.
Rhys, 21, worked on one of the biggest of these, the recently-completely Crystal Rig II wind farm near Dunbar.
He is working towards an HNC in civil engineering, having already completed his BTEC level 3. It involves driving home from Scotland to attend college at Wrexham every Friday, but the trek is a vital step in his career path.
He said: “I’ve wanted to be a civil engineer pretty much since I was in Year 9 at school. I took all the right subjects for it – maths, physics and design technology. When I was in sixth form I did a week’s work experience at Jones Bros so I was thrilled to later get a job with them.”
When not in Scotland, Rhys lives in Corwen with mum, Menna Roberts and his sister Alys, a chef.
He was presented with a £100 cheque as part of his runner’s up prize and is considering donating it to a local charity.
Jones Bros managing director, Huw Jones, praised the two apprentices: “Josh and Rhys are valued members of our team. Their awards are testimony to our commitment to bringing on young trainees. As a family firm, we have long recognised the need to invest in the skills base for future generations, not only here at Jones Bros but for the industry as a whole.”
Jones Bros has opened its own industry-approved, independent training school, meaning new apprentices can now complete courses at the company’s purpose-designed centre next to its Ruthin headquarters, rather than having to travel to a national training college in Norfolk.
Trainee plant operators also undergo training at Jones Bros’ 100-acre quarry at the Horseshoe Pass, Llangollen, learning to operate larger plant and machinery before sitting oral and practical exams.
The apprenticeship scheme is also open to employees of other companies. As well as construction skills, various other courses are offered including safety awareness and environmental awareness.
The awards to Josh and Rhys were presented at CECA’s annual dinner at the Marriot Hotel, Cardiff.