Why did you choose to take an apprenticeship in construction?
When I was little I wanted to be a fire fighter, but I didn’t want to go to university and take exams to do it. I did some labouring work while I was at school and enjoyed carpentry the most. I like that I’m mostly indoors away from any bad weather and I’m better working with my hands – I couldn’t be in an office all day, it would drive me up the wall! I chose an apprenticeship because I wanted to make sure I got my qualifications behind me, it will get me qualified and teach me everything I need to know. I learn a lot more being on site, you learn a little bit in college but doing it every day is a completely different kettle of fish.
What college are you studying at?
I’m studying for an NVQ and diploma level 2 in site carpentry at Coleg Gwent, NASH Newport campus, but I haven’t been to college in over a year because of the COVID restrictions. I’m on site four days a week and in college one day a week. I’ve almost finished my diploma work, so I’m just completing my NVQ work in my free time now and I have my weekends and afterwork free for my social life.
What contractors have you worked with during your apprenticeship so far?
My first placement was with Melin Homes Maintenance Team, which was lots of work on occupied houses and some small jobs in vacant houses. I then moved to a Willmott Dixon site at The Grange Hospital Llanfrechfa, on the new High Dependency Unit. I’m excited to be working on such a high-profile development. I’ve been working with sub-contractors T & G Carpentry. They are teaching me lots every day. I’m getting to do a lot of hands-on carpentry work. I’ve been fitting fire doors, skirting, architrave, boxing in and studs. It’s a great experience for preparing me for working life after my apprenticeship finishes. The site is really well organised and there is lots of work to do every day. There are lots of trades people on site, so I learn different ways of doing things and learn what other trades do. I’m much more trusted here and have a lot of independence, unlike other site I have worked on.
What has been your favourite thing about your apprenticeship so far?
I like it when I’m told what to do and I can crack on, I’m getting more independence and have a lot of trust in me on the site I’m on now. Every day is a lesson in learning to overcome obstacles. College has everything set out for you perfectly, but work on site isn’t like that. Some friends of mine are with one-man bands, which means they haven’t always got work or it’s in lots of little bits. But on a big site like this, there’s always something for me to do. I’ve also had the chance to work on my social skills, chatting to lots of different people on site. I’ve been working a lot with plaster boarders, so I know a lot about steel studs that I wouldn’t have seen elsewhere.
What do the next few years look like for you?
I’d like to work with a company for a while, to get my name out there and build up my skills and tools. I’m looking forward to becoming self-employed one day. I’ll be really motivated to get work done and do a good job, because it’ll be all for me. I’d tell anyone who is considering taking up a carpentry apprenticeship to do it! If you’re interested in a trade and you want to be fully qualified, an apprenticeship is the best way to achieve that, and you get paid! Ask for opportunities, ask to do things, have a go at everything and don’t be afraid to fail. Carpenters are important to the construction industry because every other trade needs carpenters to do their own work. We make all the foundations and structures!