School placement that led to site engineer in five years for Sion25th Apr 2017

A one-week work placement at the age of 16 prompted the start of a career as an engineer for one Jones Bros employee.

Sion Dolben Hughes, now 22, did one week’s work experience with Jones Bros while in year 11 at Ysgol Y Berwyn, Bala.

Sion liked it so much, he arranged for a further one-week placement there while in his first year in the sixth form.

After deciding A levels weren’t for him, Sion explored training options at an open day at Yale College, Wrexham (now Coleg Cambria), and enrolled for a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in civil engineering.

During the college summer holiday, Sion asked Jones Bros if he could go back for the summer, and was offered a six-week placement.

At the end of the summer, he was enjoying his work so much he asked if he could join the company. His request went up to Huw Jones, the owner of the company, who agreed to hire Sion in a full-time permanent position as a trainee civil engineer.

Sion converted from a full time – to part-time BTEC course, so he could work as well as study.

As a trainee engineer, Sion gained a mass of site experience, working on a major water pipeline project, and wind farms as far apart as Cornwall, Scunthorpe and Scotland.

Along the way, he was named, at the age of 19, as most promising trainee civil engineer in the annual CECA Wales awards.

Now, Sion is completing his first posting as a site engineer, at the 17-turbine Garreg Lwyd wind farm, mid-Wales, where his responsibilities include setting out, recording and quality assurance on the site.

Sion said: “I’ve been on this wind farm for a year and three months, and we are now nearing the end of the job. At the moment we are carrying out reinstatement works, drainage improvements and have recently started demobilizing the site cabins. It has been rewarding being able to see how the site has developed from start to finish.”

“Rhydian Hafal is the current Project Manager who is above me at the moment. He assists me with any issues that arise on the job and is very helpful on a day to day basis. I should find out soon where I’m heading for the next job.”

He added: “I enjoy working for Jones Bros. To start with, I went from job to job with the same mentor – James Lockwood. James was a Site Agent at the time. He taught me everything he could and helped me out until he thought I was competent enough to carry out different tasks on my own. This helped massively in my training to become a Site Engineer.

“My experience so far has been better than I ever expected. I could not have asked for more support. The transition from job to job has been good.

“Because the company is growing, there are new opportunities which are currently available.” added Sion. He is now considering which course to take for the next stage of his education.

He did have a word of advice for teenagers thinking about training in civil engineering:

He said: “The role can be stressful at times and does have long hours. Hard work is required and the traveling can make life difficult. But if you can come to terms with this, then the prospects are really good.”