Apprentices selected for flagship Pen y Cymoedd project5th Mar 2014

The joint venture behind the construction of the largest onshore wind farm in Wales and England has chosen the first two apprentices to learn their trade while working on the project.

Callum Gait, 18, and Jonathan Bird, 21, have been selected for the apprentice plant operative posts at Vattenfall’s 76 turbine Pen y Cymoedd Wind Energy Project in the South Wales valleys.

The enthusiastic duo have begun an initial six-week training course to gain experience operating heavy machinery and begin learning construction skills and qualifications.

Once completed, they will spend seven months assisting civil engineers from joint venture partners Jones Bros and Balfour Beatty on the flagship wind farm.

Jonathan, who lives in Hirwaun, just five minutes from the site, said he was looking forward to starting his apprenticeship, having cut short a trip to Germany to attend an interview for the position.

“I feel really lucky to have been accepted,” Jonathan said.

“The interview date for the apprenticeships was while I was in Berlin visiting friends, so I travelled home a day early. This is something that I’ll hopefully be doing for the rest of my life, so it was well worth missing a day of my holiday!”

“It’s great that I’ll be working on the Pen y Cymoedd site, which is just a few minutes away from my house. I’ll be able to cycle in to work, instead of doing 13-hour shifts, including travel, at my former job down in Cardiff.

“It’s a really important project that is giving opportunities to people like myself and really making a difference to the village.”

When operational, Pen y Cymoedd Wind Energy Project will be the largest onshore wind farm in England and Wales, generating enough electricity to power around 140,000 homes.

The new apprenticeships form part of the commitment from the joint venture and wind farm developer Vattenfall to supporting new jobs and skills in the region.
A total of two thirds of all plant operatives will be sourced from within 30 miles of the site.

Callum, who lives in Aberdare, is also looking forward to starting work on site, and will be following in the footsteps of his grandfather William, who was also a plant operative.

“I remember my granddad telling me stories about working with plant, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do really,” he said.

“I can’t wait to get started. This is a great opportunity to learn some really important skills and make a start in civil engineering. I’m enthusiastic and ambitious, and want to work my way up, starting from here.

“Since getting the apprenticeship, all my friends have been asking about the project, and have been looking at the other opportunities that are out there.”

Callum and Jonathan are the first of a number of apprentices that will learn their trade at the site. A second batch is set to be selected in April.

Project manager Eryl Roberts said: “There was a lot of interest from some really good candidates, and we’re all looking forward to welcoming Callum and Jonathan on site.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for them to learn vital skills on what is the first big project of this type in the region.”

The joint venture’s work is due be completed in September 2015, with the overall Pen y Cymoedd project scheduled for completion in Spring 2017.