Three young people from Wigan are starting work as apprentices helping to build the borough’s long-awaited A49 link road.
And just a fortnight into their training, the trio were driving heavy plant such as dumpers and rollers, at the accredited training centre run by contractor Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK.
They are: Jacob Lloyd, 18; Mustafa Hamed, 19; and Ryan Miller, 20. Jacob and Mustafa are former pupils at Hawkley High School, while Ryan went to Abraham Guest High School (now called the Dean Trust Academy).
Each has joined the company’s plant operator apprenticeship, which can take 12-15 months to complete.
Wigan Council appointed Jones Bros to deliver the A49 project in 2018 and in just a few weeks’ time, the trainees will be on site contributing to the new route, which will connect Warrington Road in Goose Green to Westwood Way, Chapel Lane junction and the town centre. The road passes over busy Poolstock Lane and aims to relieve congestion on the road.
Jacob initially started studying mechanical engineering at level 2 NVQ, then level 3 BTEC extended diploma, before switching to civil engineering.
He said: “I noticed an advert in the college that Jones Bros was holding a careers event and I talked to the Jones Bros team who explained how to apply. I’ve always wanted to work in construction and it’s great. I’m really enjoying it.”
Mustafa gained a GCSE in engineering at school, then a national extended diploma in mechanical, electrical and civil engineering at Wigan University Technical College. He spent one year as an undergraduate in mechanical engineering at the University of Salford, before realising the apprenticeship gave him a stronger opportunity to earn and learn combining practical and theoretical training in civil engineering.
He said: “I wanted to be more hands-on. I found out about the apprenticeship and went to talk to the Jones Bros training manager on site.
“It’s going really well and I’m enjoying every day. I’m looking forward to starting my career working on a big project in my home town.”
Ryan had previously studied for a level 1 multi-skilled construction apprenticeship, then level 2 plumbing, at Wigan & Leigh College.
He said: “My family and some friends all work in construction and I wanted to go into it, but was a bit unsure exactly what I wanted to do.
“This apprenticeship offers so much. I am employed from day one and I’m trained to industry standards that will allow me to work on any construction site in the UK. I’m really excited about my future prospects.”
Jones Bros contracts director Garod Evans said: “Wherever we win work, we are always keen to ensure the benefits of our presence extends as far as possible into the local community.
“These three new recruits are showing great enthusiasm to learn. Soon, they’ll be on site, helping to improve the infrastructure for everyone in their home town.”
Jones Bros has also invited local people to apply for jobs, training, and work placements, in partnership with Wigan Council, which will help identify suitable candidates.
Local subcontractors and suppliers are also being given opportunities to become involved with the project.
Leader of the council, Councillor David Molyneux, said: “Giving young people the opportunity to learn new skills is a key priority for me and the council.
“We are passionate about working closely with contractors who share these views and so it is fantastic news that Jones Bros has given three young people the chance to work on a project that will make a huge positive difference to their local area.”
The Ruthin-based firm, which secured the A49 contract with Wigan Council in June 2018, expects the project to be complete in Spring 2020.
The scheme has been made possible through funding support from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Growth Deal pot, which is managed by Transport for Greater Manchester.
To find out more about the A49 link road project visit www.wigan.gov.uk and search ‘A49’.