That's our Jay: East Yorkshire apprentice wins Apprentice of the Year

8 months ago Thu 21st Oct 2021

Congratulations to Jay Rodgers, formally Jordanne-Rose Rodgers, who won Apprentice of the Year at the Society of Engineers (SOE) Safety & Sustainability Awards on 7 October.

Our Marketing Assistant, Terry Vincent, spoke to Jay about her apprenticeship so far and how it feels to win such a prestigious award.

TERRY: So, tell me about your apprenticeship so far – how are you finding it?

JAY: Before coming here, I spent a year in Hull College doing car mechanics - you know, it gave me a small drop of information about mechanics… And then I came here and found out that everything I had learnt so far was wrong! [laughs]

Oh no! That’s not ideal.

No, it’s been a great opportunity to take everything I’ve learned so far and make it bigger and better! I’m officially in charge of inspecting my own buses and learning more every day. It’s really helped with my confidence too. I was pretty shy when I started, and now I can chat with the best of them, as you can tell.

Ha! I don’t mind a good chat. What’s the most useful thing you’ve learnt so far then?

I’ve learnt a lot about myself. I’m the kind of person who gets frustrated when things don’t go right, and I’m learning to overcome that and have patience in myself. It’s something I’m still learning…

Very philosophical!

Thanks, I try.

Is there anything that’s really made a difference to your career path? A mentor or a teacher?

Well, I’ve had some negative experiences in the past, but it’s made me want to work harder. There’s two great mentors who spring to mind, aside from the whole of PSV. One of them is Steve Saxby – when I fell a little bit out of love with work, he moved me onto the main floor to work with him and helped me remember why I started the job and how much I loved it.

Sounds like a great mentor.

Yeah, he really got involved in encouraging me – you know, he’d answer all my questions and helped me with my college work. He made me feel like I could do it.

Well, thanks Steve! Who’s the second, then?

That would be G, the Bus and Coach Programme Manager. He basically taught me most, if not all, of the theory. We’ve built up a great relationship over the years – he’s always believed in me.

Ah, G! We’ve spoken to him; he had a lot of nice things to say about you. He was the one that nominated you, right?

Yeah. He rang me and asked if it was OK to nominate me. I didn’t quite get it; I mean it’s nice to be recognised but I thought that there were more deserving people. I told him that and asked him why he wanted to nominate me. He said, “you’ve had to work for it”, and I guess I have. It doesn’t come natural to me – you know, some people have natural talents. I don’t think I do; I just really enjoy it.

It’s been quite a journey for you then?

Yeah. I mean, God. I did the whole shebang – GCSEs, A Levels. It wasn’t for me. Halfway through my A Levels, my stepdad was doing work on his car and needed a hand, so I went to help him. I remember thinking “this is fun; it’s like Lego but bigger!” and I basically got the taste for it there and then.

I like that metaphor – ‘Lego but bigger’.

It is, though. I love it. From there, I sat down and spoke to my mum and told her that I wanted to pursue it. She convinced me to finish my A Levels first, so I did. Then I did the year at Hull College just to get a feel for it – I was eighteen, so it was free for me.

You started at Hull College - how did you get into the apprenticeship then?

Well, whilst I was there, I was made redundant at a job I was working at. Then, three months later, Hull College turned around and said that I needed to pay to carry on the course. I wasn’t going to carry on. I started looking on Indeed and East Yorkshire wanted an apprentice trainee – I didn’t even know what that was. When you’re doing A Levels, the focus is on getting ready for Uni; no one tells you about apprenticeships.


Yeah, I thought to myself, “why isn’t everyone doing this?”, I mean, you get paid to learn! So, I applied for every apprenticeship in the area and East Yorkshire was the only one who got back to me. I came to the interview, dressed in my school uniform (the smartest clothes I had) and I thought I’d bombed it. A few weeks later, whilst I was still applying for other jobs, someone called me and told me I got it.

That was a good day, then?

Yeah – I had arranged a job interview at Primark, and I had to call them up and be like “sorry, I can’t make it… I’ve got another job!” [laughs]

So then, lets talk about the award. How did it feel to accept it?

I’ll be honest with you; I hated every minute of it. The recognition’s nice, sure, but I don’t like attention.

This interview’s your worst nightmare then.

A little bit! [laughs] I just don’t really understand why I got it – I’m just doing my job. There are so many people out there who are better than me, I’m still learning. The ceremony was filled with people from across the board, and I was the youngest by a couple of decades. I felt out of place. When I got up on the stage to accept it, they got my name wrong too.

Oh no! At least you got to get dressed up though!

[laughs] I think I’ll stick with my boots and overalls, thanks!

So, where is the award then?

It’s still in the box at home - the best paperweight I’ve ever had!