A SWINDON company has taken on the UK’s first apprentice mobile and static plant operator. Aidan Jeffreys, a 16 year old former student from Chippenham, is undertaking his apprenticeship with Hills Quarry Products and when he completes his studies he will have achieved Level 2 Diplomas in both Plant and Processing Operations.

Hills is celebrating Aidan’s progress as part of National Apprenticeship Week to highlight the career opportunities available for apprentices in the quarrying industry.

The number of people joining the quarrying industry has declined over the years and statistics show that just 17 per cent of the quarry workforce is aged between 18 and 34. The average age of those in quarry-related roles is 55. Hills spent the past two years working with industry specialists and training providers to develop this new apprenticeship scheme.

Aidan was recruited following Hills attendance at numerous college events where the career opportunities in the quarrying industry were showcased, including apprenticeships.

Reflecting on his new role, Aidan said: “I am really enjoying my time at Hills. I have been given more responsibility that I have had before and everyone has been helpful, patient and friendly. It is a great environment to be in.”

Aidan spends the majority of his working week at a quarry north of Swindon where he undertakes practical based learning, including operation of mobile and static plant, and the remainder of his time is spent with external trainers and mentors learning the more theoretical requirements for the role.

Peter Andrew, group director Hills Quarry Products, said: “We are delighted to have Aidan on board; he has settled in extremely well and has shown a real flair for the tasks he has been set and is coping well with the pressures of learning whilst training.”

Interested candidates are invited to spend a day at a working quarry to see for themselves the type of work they would be expected to undertake and the conditions in which they would be working. They also have the opportunity to meet potential future colleagues and share their experiences of working in the quarry industry.

Peter said: “This is a real achievement for Hills and the quarrying industry. Hopefully this will set a benchmark and Aidan will be the first of many to take on this apprenticeship training.”

Anyone interested in pursuing an apprenticeship can contact The Hills Group on email info@hills-group.co.uk