Meet our apprentices

Martin Bicknell

09 September 2019

Carpentry Apprentice

Why did you choose a career in carpentry?

When I was young, I wanted to be a footballer - but I’m pretty rubbish at football so that dream was pretty short lived. I had a little stint of carpentry while out of work through the Job Centre Plus and really enjoyed making things in the workshop. I enjoy working with wood. I get a huge feeling of satisfaction when something is finished, and you can see that I’ve done a good job. It’s a decent job for decent pay.

Why did you choose to study with an apprenticeship?

It will open up better work opportunities, teach me a life skill and give me the chance to earn a good wage. I’ll be able to pass on the new skills I’ve learnt to my kids too. I’ve found the balance between college, my apprenticeship and my personal life great. Having college on a Tuesday also breaks up the working week.

What qualification are you working towards?

I’m studying for an NVQ level 2 and Diploma in Site Carpentry. I have been studying at Coleg Gwent’s Pontypool campus, but from September I will be attending the Nash campus in Newport.

What has been your favourite part of your apprenticeship?

Being given the opportunity. I was out of work, I was struggling to find someone to take me on and give me funding because of my age. I have really enjoyed it when I have had a good run of work as it’s given me the chance to learn and develop the skills I’ve built up.

How does it feel starting an apprenticeship at an older age?

I’m in a much better position in my life to learn now. I’m more motivated now that I’m older, even if it can be a bit harder with two little distractions running around while I’m studying. I’ve had some up’s and down’s, but when I’m on site doing the carpentry work I love it, and I love learning and developing new skills. While I’ve been working with different carpenters’ I’ve made a couple of good contacts who have offered me work for when I’m available.

What are you most looking forward to in your career as a carpenter?

I can’t wait to have my own business and be my own boss! Restoration work really interests me, so I’d like to do more of that than I’ve had the chance to do so far. I’d also like to do more domestic jobs and finish carpentry - there’s no better feeling than when someone really appreciates your work and is proud to have it in their home.

What would you say to someone looking at starting an apprenticeship?

I’d say if it’s a trade that you really want to get into, go for it! Apprenticeships are the way to go if you want to become qualified - you don’t get the experience through college alone. I’ve learnt that sometimes you need a thick skin to work on site. You will use lots of practical skills and maths, but you also need to be good with change and adapting. Being moved around sites can disrupt your rhythm, especially when you’ve been getting a good run of work, but it also gives you the chance to learn different working practices and skills, as well as the chance to make new contacts.

 

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