Young mechanics a real driving force in transport depot

James Jelinski, 23, and Megan Colwill, 24, are the latest fresh-faced recruits to the Council’s Central Transport Services department and they are living proof of how the world of motor mechanics is changing.

Both are passionate about machines and they both have plenty of opportunities to tackle a wide range of vehicles. They are part of a 36-strong team tasked with repairing and maintaining the Council’s 1,000-plus fleet, which includes lorries, gritters, refuse vehicles, meals on wheels delivery vans and school minibuses, as well as all the electric vehicles and the Park’s department’s lawnmowers and other light agricultural vehicles.

They both work at the Council’s main depot in Coleridge Road in Leckwith, managed by Mathew Hallam who is full of praise for the pair. “James was taken on around 14 months ago and has completed his apprenticeship with us,” he said. “When he finished, it wasn’t a given that we would take him on but we have had very good feedback on him throughout and when a position became available we were happy to have him.”

Megan, from Caerphilly, joined the council as an apprentice and is the first woman taken on in this role. She was originally studying mechanical engineering at college as part of a placement but when that fell through she applied for a position at Cardiff Council and was taken on. Her feedback from the mentors she works with has also been excellent.

“I don’t feel any different being the only woman on the team,” she said. “There’s a really good camaraderie at the depot and I love working here. I think there should be more women in this trade – traditionally it’s been a very male-dominated field.”

Her manager agrees: “In recent years there’s been a shortage of mechanics across the board,” said Mathew. “As a result, the money that’s on offer has risen and it’s more appealing now to young women. Also, it’s not a job for burly blokes any more – we have state-of-the-art equipment here and that makes working with the heavy engines a lot easier and safer.”

Apprentices start on a salary of around £22,700, rising to almost £34,000 when – like James – they have completed their four-year apprenticeship. They work towards an NVQ Level Three in HGV maintenance and repair and have the chance to take other vocational courses, such as vehicle electrics.

James, from Barry, loves the opportunity to work on a wide range of vehicles and wants to do more courses now he is a fully-qualified HGV fitter. “I want to work towards my HGV driving licence – that’ll mean I’m able to road test the larger vehicles we work on.”

Both feel that apprenticeships are the perfect way to make your way into the trade and feel sure they will be part of the team for years to come.

If you feel you’d like to follow in James and Megan’s footsteps, check the Council’s website here for opportunities.