Scottish apprentices gain crucial wind farm experience with Jones Bros

Scottish apprentices gain crucial wind farm experience with Jones Bros

Alex Trickey and Freddie Brown

Two higher apprentices are taking their next steps on the career ladder with a civil engineering firm courtesy of experience gained on key Scottish wind farms.

Freddie Brown spent nine months at 13-turbine Kennoxhead, with classmate Alex Trickey scheduled to gain vital onsite knowledge at Benbrack, a 15-turbine scheme.

North Wales-headquartered Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK and Wrexham-based Coleg Cambria have changed the status quo for apprenticeships since launching the new-look course in 2018.

Seven of the first intake of civil engineers have already graduated from the four-year course and are now working on major projects across the UK for Jones Bros, including in renewables, highways, and waste management.

Looking to follow in their footsteps are Alex and Freddie, the duo part of the latest 10-strong group to enrol on the scheme. Having completed the plant operative apprenticeship with Jones Bros, Freddie is ready to learn even more about the world of civil engineering.

He spent 16 months on the plant operative scheme, working on Dogger Bank, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, and Kennoxhead Wind Farm phase one. Freddie, 21, spent nine months at Kennoxhead, South Lanarkshire, before heading to Dogger Bank for half a year during spring and summer in 2022.

He said: “It was a good site up in Kennoxhead. Most of my work was labouring, which included building the bolt rings and being part of the batching team.” On Dogger Bank, he continued: “I did some more work on the machines – the excavator and the telehandler – as well as labouring in terms of the cabling and digging out trenches.

“Now I’ve had hands-on experience in the labouring and the machine sides, I can go on to the technical aspects to understand where it all fits together.”

Freddie, who hails from Annan in Dumfries and Galloway and studied at St Joseph’s College, is scheduled to return to Dogger Bank C in March as the course switches from theory to practical.

Classmate Alex came to Jones Bros from Elvanfoot, South Lanarkshire, in Scotland. The 22-year-old’s career path to date has seen a few twists and turns, but he’s confident that joining Jones Bros will lead him down the right road. After working as an engineer, carrying out work such as welding and turning, Alex performed an unusual U-turn and studied as a barber for a year.

That change of direction lasted eight months before a conversation with Jones Bros office manager Gail Coulter prompted him to look into the company’s apprenticeship scheme.

Alex, who is staying in Penycae, near Wrexham, is scheduled to head out to work on Benbrack Wind Farm in Dalmellington and Carsphairn on the A713 in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. It’s a project he can’t wait to get stuck into. He said: “I learn best in a practical environment when I am doing the work, so I am looking forward to getting out on site.”

On his unfamiliar career route, former Biggar High School student Alex added: “Engineering is something I enjoy, even if my working life has been all over the place! Being a trained barber means it’s a nice treat for the lads when they need a haircut though!”

Speaking about his goals with Jones Bros, he added: “It’s a case of making my way up, slowly but surely, and staying focused.”

Tony Murphy, head of HR and business management systems for Jones Bros, commented: “It’s wonderful to welcome the latest group to the higher apprenticeship scheme. “We have recently seen seven of the first intake graduate and progress to working on major projects across the UK, and we can’t wait to watch this group of talented individuals flourish with the company.”

Coleg Cambria tutor, Matthew Owen, who is now leading the fifth cohort of Jones Bros higher apprentices since the start of the collaboration, said: “The students have really thrived this year, they are very strong, and there is plenty of talent, as always.

“They are from a mixed background and all over the country, but they’ve come together. It’s good to hear the stories of home and to see how supportive they are of each other.

“We have apprentices who have studied at the college previously who can help with software and databases, and then once they get their future assignments, they can help with directions to whichever projects they will be working on and tell them about digs, so it’s a good resource of communication.”

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