Meet our Host Partner

Barkwall Joinery

12 May 2023

Martin Taylor (picture d right) was employed company as a Carpenter with Barkwall for 13 years before taking the over as MD. He targeted contractors that he had previously worked with including Interserve (now Tilbury Douglas). Martin said “they are an accommodating company, and it has paid off. They rely on us and know the quality of work we produce. Currently, we have three sites with them, Prince Charles Hospital, Genomics Laboratories in Cardiff, and Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen.  But you can’t put your eggs in one basket, so we have worked for Kier, Knox and Wells as well as doing private work”.                                                                                                                               

Prior to Barkwall Joinery working with Y Prentis their experience with apprentices had been disappointing. Martin stated “Some main contractors would place them with us to look after, and we would train them up. But that never really worked well. They would start off very promising, but they would not last more than a few months”.

In 2021 Y Prentis Assistant Manager, Nicola Murray, contacted Martin after being referred to them by Tilbury Douglas Social Value Manager Lucy Davies. Nicola explained the scheme and told him about an apprentice, Owyn Thomas, for whom she was looking for a host contractor. After learning that Owyn only needed several months to complete his apprenticeship, Martin agreed to “give him a go”

Owyn joined Y Prentis as an apprentice Carpenter in 2019 and attended Merthyr Tydfil College. He has worked on housing projects in Tredegar and Ebbw Vale before being placed with Barkwall Joinery at Prince Charles Hospital. In September 2021 he achieved his NVQ level 3 and completed his advanced Apprenticeship. He now works for Barkwall as a qualified carpenter.

Owyn said “Justin and the guys at Barkwall took time and patience to teach me and that meant a lot. I would not of completed my apprenticeship without them or the help I got from Danny Thomas

at Y Prentis. He gave me the support and linked with my assessor for me to submit the right evidence for my qualification”.


After the positive experience with Owyn, and the support of the Y Prentis team, Martin was asked if he would consider another experienced Apprentice. Nicola said “We had an apprentice, Ryan Davies, who had around 6 months left to complete his apprenticeship. Martin agreed to take him, and Ryan started in June 2022. Ryan has now also completed his apprenticeship and is a qualified Carpenter with Barkwall”.

Martin explained “It was an easy decision to take another Apprentices through Y Prentis. I do not have time to do what Danny does for us. Using the tradition route is not feasible for my company. Y Prentis take the stress away from the process which means we have more time to spend mentoring and training the apprentices, the Barkwall way.  (Pictured left Owyn Thomas)


The fees are reasonable and it’s also reassuring that should we need to; we can hand them back to Y Prentis who can place them with another contractor”.

Day to day mentoring is carried out by Barkwall supervisor Lee Sullivan. He commented “it’s great to have these younger apprentices coming through. Most of the carpenters we have are approaching retirement and we need apprentices to replace them. We must be patient though. You can’t expect too much early on. We need to build their confidence, then the rest will come “We look for certain attributes when they come to us” Lee explained. “Good timekeeping, they have to be interested enthusiastic about the trade and willing to learn””.                                                                                                                                                                          .

Barkwall has recently taken on a third apprentice through Y Prentis, first year Joe Beynon. Nicola Murray Y Prentis Assistant Manager stated, “Martin is the perfect example of a SME who sees the benefits of growing his workforce using apprentices. But does not have the capacity to do all the paperwork and interaction with colleges. This is where we at Y Prentis come in. We take all the bureaucracy and hassle out of the process, freeing them to do the day-to-day site training and mentoring”.

Martin sees the wider benefits to training the apprentices. “By giving them the skills and a trade, they can earn a living and contribute to the family income or even start a family and buy a house of their own. Learning to drive and getting your own vehicle is also important as you can’t necessarily take your tools on the bus”.  There is a shortage of skilled trades, so training the next generation is important for the future of the construction industry” Martin said. “Developing Apprentices has never been more important. Using Y Prentis to source and manage them is proving to be of great benefit. I would advise other contractors to seriously consider this route as it takes the hassle out of the process and gives flexibility through the busy and quiet work periods. Y Prentis make sure apprentices finish their apprenticeship and go on to work in the industry”.

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