Apprentice brings breath of fresh air to wind turbine company

An ambitious 20-year-old is encouraging school leavers to consider apprenticeships as a way to fast track their career.

Jake Carey, a wind power engineering apprentice is following in his family’s footsteps by training to work on wind turbines, Wales’ biggest renewable energy source, doing his bit to tackle the climate crisis.

Working for RWE Renewables, Jake found inspiration from his uncle, a senior operations manager who started as technician himself.

About to enter his third and final year of his Level 3 Apprenticeship Jake is encouraging others to consider an apprenticeship as their first choice when leaving school as he believes it offers an invaluable, unique, opportunity to get a foot on the career ladder whilst earning.

The Welsh Government recently announced a £40m jobs and skills package which will be crucial in incentivising employers to recruit and retain up to 5,000 apprentices, like Jake.

He said: “Growing up in Llandudno you can’t miss the wind turbines when you’re walking along the seafront, but I never imagined myself being one of the few who actually gets to sail out and work on them!

“I think I could easily have been one of those people who panics about what they’re going to do when they finish school and automatically copied my friend’s career paths.

“However, I’d always been interested in engineering, electronics and science but there wasn’t really an opportunity at school to dig deeper into it. My uncle really encouraged and inspired me to think about an apprenticeship as a good way of learning more and getting into the STEM sector.

“I absolutely love every minute of my course at Coleg Llandrillo, and even though there’s a lot of theory and technical elements to learn before we can work on the turbines themselves, I know as soon as it’s safe to I’ll be putting all my theory into practice.

I’ve also been able to learn from other mechanics and engineers who have been doing the job for years and they’ve been amazing mentors to me along the way.

“Doing an apprenticeship has really opened my eyes to the world of work, I’m only 20 now but here I am, almost qualified, in a really specialised and highly technical job.

“The renewable energy sector is only going to grow, with more and more focus on saving the planet and I’m proud to play my small part in doing so.

“I know that once I’m qualified, I’ll have the opportunity to work anywhere in the world, as turbines are being built in lots of different countries and my skills will always be in demand. Even though I’d love to travel, eventually I’d like to settle in my hometown in north Wales, where RWE are looking to build more wind farms.

“The main thing I love about my apprenticeship is that I’ve already got my life and career mapped out at a relatively young age.

“One day, I’d like to be like my uncle who has worked his way up in the company to a senior position, having started as an apprentice just like me.

“It makes me feel good to know that kind of career progression is an option for me and doing an apprenticeship means I’m already on my way to success.”

John Carey, Jake’s uncle and senior operations manager at RWE said: “Like many other companies we originally started our Apprenticeship Programme to supplement our workforce, following the trend of other renewable energy companies who were starting to emerge as the industry grew.

“Now however, our apprentices have become an integral part of the community at RWE, genuinely breathing new life and enthusiasm into the company with their energy and passion for learning.

“The Apprenticeship Programme really boosts and inspires our technicians and senior staff, we’ve found that they actually learn from each other about new techniques as well as the tried and tested methods we’re used to.

“Our commitment to apprentices over the last few years has grown so substantially that we’re now looking to expand our mentor programme fivefold, we’ve even recruited a dedicated apprenticeship manager who will oversee the development and expansion of the programme at RWE.

“From a personal point of view, I’m incredibly proud of Jake and glad that he’s enjoying his time as an apprentice, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.”

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates said: “Jake’s story is a perfect example of how an apprenticeship can provide vital experience of an industry while studying.

“Students leaving education this summer will be doing so amid incredibly challenging circumstances. Coronavirus has had a real impact on our economy, and individuals need to be skilled, adaptable and work-ready for what is an extremely competitive jobs market.

“The Welsh Government recently announced a significant £40m support package which will be absolutely essential in helping employers to take on and train new workers, including apprentices and young people.

“Our aim is not only to return to the levels of growth we were seeing before the pandemic, but to build back better as we do so. Apprenticeships are absolutely crucial to this, and I urge students to consider all of the avenues into employment which are available to them.”

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.