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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Hills recruit quarry sector’s first MPO apprentice

Apprentice Aidan Jeffreys and operations manager Peter Steffens

Aidan Jeffreys becomes the industry’s first mobile and static plant operator apprentice

HILLS Quarry Products have recruited the UK quarry industry’s first mobile and static plant operator (MPO) apprentice.

Aidan Jeffreys, who is based at Hills’ Shorncote Quarry, near Cirencester, began the MPO apprenticeship in September and is due to complete his studies in December 2018 with Level 2 Diplomas in both Plant and Processing Operations.

The number of young people joining the quarrying industry has significantly declined over the years and statistics show that just 17% of the quarry workforce is aged between 18 and 34, with the average age of those in quarry-related roles being 55.

Hills actively targeted school leavers and existing college students and attended a number of events at local colleges to showcase the career opportunities available within the industry, including this new apprenticeship scheme.

Interested candidates were 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. On site they also had the opportunity to meet up with potential future colleagues who shared their experiences of working in the quarry industry.

Reflecting upon his new role, Mr Jeffreys said: ‘I am really enjoying my time at Hills. I have been given more responsibility than 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 undertaking practical-based learning, which includes operating 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 of 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.

‘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 join Hills as an apprentice.’

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