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

Jake Carey, a wind power engineering apprentice studying at Coleg Llandrillo's Rhos-on-Sea campus, 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 a 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.

Jake started his three-year apprenticeship with Coleg Llandrillo in September 2018 after completing his GCSEs at school. The first two years of his apprenticeship was spent at the college's Wind Turbine Training Centre at its Rhos-on-Sea campus on a full-time basis, where he completed a BTEC L3 Subsidiary Diploma in Engineering, CandG Technical Knowledge in Wind Turbine Maintenance, and a CandG NVQ2 Performing Engineering Operations. He is now in his final year which he will spend working offshore at Mostyn Docks to complete his CandG NVQ3 in Wind Turbine Operations and Maintenance.

Jake is on-track to successfully complete his Level 3 Apprenticeship in August 2021 at Wales' only Wind Turbine Training Centre at Coleg Llandrillo, Rhos-on-Sea. Due to the college's successful award-winning apprenticeship programme, RWE Renewables UK has committed to recruiting a further 8 Wind Turbine Apprentices across the UK starting September 2020.

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.

Jake 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 panicked about what they were going to do when they finish school and automatically copied my friends' 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 these areas. My uncle really encouraged and inspired me to think about an apprenticeship as a good way of learning more and getting into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) sector.

I absolutely love every minute of my course at Coleg Llandrillo, and 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.

John Carey, Jake's uncle and senior operations manager at RWE, said:

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.

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 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 apprenticeship programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

For more information on Wind Turbine apprenticeships at Coleg Llandrillo, please contact the college's Learner Services team on 01492 542 338.