TEENAGER has been selected for a rare opportunity to learn the ropes at a leading wind farm development in Neath Port Talbot.
Tom Burbidge will take his first steps in the world of civil engineering under the tutorship of joint venture partners Jones Bros UK and Balfour Beatty, which are delivering infrastructure at Vattenfall’s Pen y Cymoedd Wind Energy Project in the Afan Valley.
Tom, aged 18, who lives just half an hour from the 76-turbine development, originally applied for a plant operative apprenticeship post on the project.
But after impressing in his interview, the youngster was instead encouraged to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue a career in civil engineering.
Tom said: “My father’s an engineer, which is what inspired me to apply to work on the Pen y Cymoedd Wind Energy Project in the first place.
“He’s absolutely over the moon about it, as I am.
“I love the idea of being outside and not stuck in an office.
“It’s part of what attracted me to work in construction.
“It’s lucky that an opportunity like this has appeared right on my doorstep, and I can’t wait to learn more about civil engineering at one of the country’s biggest projects.”
As well as helping with site supervision, costings and health and safety on the project, Tom will spend the next three years studying civil engineering at college.
Vattenfall and the joint venture are committed to supporting new jobs and skills in the area around the Pen y Cymoedd project.
A total of two-thirds of all plant operatives will be from within 30 miles of the site.
Rhys Roberts, who is a former runner-up in the most promising trainee civil engineer category in the prestigious Civil Engineering Contractors Association Wales awards, will mentor Tom during his time on site.
He said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for Tom.
“When I was a trainee, I started on a similar-sized site in Scotland, so I know what it’s like to work on a large-scale project.
“It’s great that an opportunity like this has appeared so close to home for Tom, and there’s no better way to learn how to be a civil engineer than by working on site.”
When operational, the Pen y Cymoedd project will be the largest onshore wind farm in England and Wales, generating enough electricity to power around 140,000 homes.
The joint venture’s work is due be completed in September 2015, with the overall Pen y Cymoedd project scheduled for completion in 2017.