Three brothers are keeping civil engineering in the family after securing places on an award-winning apprenticeship scheme run by Jones Bros.
Connor, Jake and Matthew Edwards are looking forward to a bright future working on multi-million pound projects across the UK after undergoing training with the contractor.
Connor, 18, and Jake, 21, have spent the last year developing their skills on Jones Bros’ well-established plant operatives scheme, while Matthew, 22, is one of the first recruits on the firm’s new general construction operations course.
As National Apprenticeship Week approaches, the brothers are urging other young people to consider an apprenticeship as a way of kick starting a successful career in construction.
The awareness week, running from 14-18 March, will celebrate the positive impact that both apprenticeships and trainees have on individuals, businesses and the wider community.
The brothers, from Betws Gwerfil Goch in Denbighshire, began their apprenticeships last year. Jake was the first to be recruited in May, followed by Connor two months later.
Newest recruit Matthew left his job on a production line at a trailer factory to join his brothers in November.
As he prepares to finish his first set of exams, he said he would recommend an apprenticeship to other young people looking for a rewarding career.
Matthew said: “I kept coming home from work and hearing about what Connor and Jake were learning and how much they liked being on site, and it made me realise how much I wanted to enjoy my work too.
“I was working on a production line at a trailer company at the time, and it just wasn’t going anywhere – there was no chance of progression. I left there, even though it paid more money, because I wanted to be in a job that had a chance of a successful future.
“I joined in November and haven’t looked back since. I’ve really enjoyed what we’ve done so far, even though it’s different to the course both my brothers did. I think what I’m learning is a bit more technical than what they did, but they probably wouldn’t agree!
“There is a bit of friendly competition between us. Connor got the best test results out of the three of us, but I think they were being kind to him!
“Our parents are both really proud of what we’ve done. My dad works away a lot and my sister’s at university, so I think my mum will actually enjoy the peace and quiet of having the three of us away on site!
“I’d really recommend an apprenticeship to anyone else looking to build a career for themselves and develop new skills.”
After completing his studies, Matthew will put his training into practice at one of Jones Bros’ worksites based across the UK.
He’ll be following the footsteps of Jake, who worked for four months on the 76-turbine Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm, and Connor, who spent the summer helping develop site access to a new housing and retail development in Haverfordwest.
Connor said: “I’ve had a great time so far, and learning at the same times as my brother has been really good.
“We only live about ten miles from Ruthin, and used to test each-other on the theory questions on the way home each day. We both passed all of our exams at the same time, so there wasn’t really any competition between us.
“It took a few weeks to get used to working away from home, but the support we had from the rest of the team was great.
“I worked with another lad who recently completed his apprenticeship, so he could really relate to what it’s like working away from home for the first time.”
Jake, who also left a job putting together trailer components to join Jones Bros, said: “I think apprenticeships are a great way for young people to learn new skills that can set them up for life.
“I love working outdoors and the challenge of doing something different every day, which is exactly what I’ve had while on site.”
The trio are among 27 young people to have been taken on by Jones Bros in the last 12 months on the plant operatives and general construction operatives scheme, which includes laying kerbs, installing drainage and health, safety and welfare in construction.
The family-run company has a long history of providing career opportunities to young people, resulting in a highly skilled, committed workforce.
Jones Bros’ training manager Richard Owen said: “We are passionate about training the next generation of construction workers and engineers and this enables us to be well placed to carry out large schemes because, unlike some other companies, we continued to recruit and invest in our trainees during the recession.
“Many of our employees have been with the company for a considerable number of years, often working alongside their own family members. We are also very proud of the fact that a significant number of Jones Bros apprentices are now working in more senior roles on high-profile projects across the UK, including highways, coastal, renewables and waste remediation schemes.”
As part of its commitment to apprentices Jones Bros established a training centre during the 1980’s to ensure its workforce was trained to a high standard. Since that time it has developed into a facility that employs two full time plant trainers and a training co-ordinator, with access to a range of specialist training providers.
In 2014 Jones Bros won the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) ‘Outstanding Training Partner Award’ at the Pride of Construction Awards and the CITB “Large Apprentice Employer of The Year Award (Wales)” at the Apprenticeship Awards.
Last year it made the shortlist in the Training Excellence category for the Construction News Specialists Awards 2015.
Founded in the 1950s, Jones Bros employs approximately 350 people. It operates across the UK in sectors including construction of waste management facilities, highways and renewable energy projects such as wind farms.