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A story from an apprentice


My name is Jake Wilson, in year 9 at school, at the age of 14 I took resistant materials as a course as I have always liked the idea of working with wood.

Having really enjoyed the course I decided I would try and find an apprentice as the next stage when I left school. I searched on the internet and came across my current employer Churchview Joinery's website. I liked the type of things they made and contacted them the same day. I was then offered 2 weeks of work experience through CSkills which I was very excited about. (CSkills look after the apprentices in the Construction Industry and companies that take on apprentices benefit from a grant to help with the training costs and my college course is also paid for).

During my work experience I did everything from clearing up to helping the other joiners with their projects which included doors and windows as well as staircases, mouldings, skirtings etc. The company employed 6 other members of staff and I really felt very at home with them all and they made me feel very welcome. I didn't mind that I would have to start at the bottom making the tea, tidying, sanding etc as speaking to the other joiners they had all started in the same way. One joiner in particular called James had been the apprentice only a few years before me and I could see how great he was at his job. He was a real inspiration and I knew that Churchview Joinery would help me to obtain my dream of becoming a joiner and would do everything they could to inspire, educate and allow me develop during my apprenticeship.

My apprentice is three years, and I am currently coming to the end of year 3. Year one involved day release to college and four days in the workshop. College started with all the basic things like health and safety and key skills and the practical cover basic joints. Meanwhile in the workshop I was learning how to mortice, sand, prepare timber using the various machines (supervised), read job sheet s and generally started to learn how things went together.

I had only been in the company a few months when they put me through forklift truck training (before I could drive a car), this meant I was responsible for the off loading of timber and finished joinery going out to site, some of this was prefinished and preglazed so I had to be very careful! This was a big responsibility which made me feel a bit more important and a more valued member of the team.

By second year college, level 2 , I was learning more about the other trades linked to joinery such as site carpentry which confirmed to me that I want to work in a joinery shop rather than out of site. The practical for year two included making jobs from start to finish which gave me a real sense of achievement. Back at the workshop Neil my Foreman was giving me more challenges and work to do on my own The company employed a new apprentice below me which meant I was no longer making the tea and tidying up so my skill level began rapidly to improve as well my confidence. By the end of my second year I was fully trained in all the machines on the machine shop floor and felt very happy that I was able to use them. It is an interesting part of the job being able to machine your own timber.

I am really happy in my job and I love going to work. The people I work with are great and share their experiences with me which helps me to learn. They don't patronise me and make me feel valued. The company treat me really well, I have had several pay rises since I started which have been given to me as I have progressed and shown me that I am worth more to my company.

During year 2, I was asked to attend the Regional Skill Build competition held in Oxford. This involved making a practical piece of joinery from a job sheet within 6 hours. I was so proud when I won first prize, which means I will now go to Skill Build this year and compete in the Senior group. I also won the Churchview Joinery Challenge Cup at the College Awards (my company sponsor this prize but don't have any say on who wins). The prize was presented by one of my bosses Karen Kebby and included a drill/driver as well as a cup. In recognition of my award they also gave me £100 worth of tools of my choice which was great as this allowed me to add to my growing tool box.

Year three at college I am continuing to expand my knowledge of joinery and I am doing really well, this is down to the experience I am gaining at work as I am being given lots of new challenges to stretch my capabilities. Neil my Foreman is always giving me good advice and teaching me new things and that really shows in my ability. I am lucky as my company give me training in everything so am able to do jobs from start to finish. Sometimes the college send us full time students for a couple of days of work experience and I enjoy showing them the type of things I do and what working in a joinery company entails.

College will be finishing for me this summer and I will no longer be an apprentice. My company are keeping me on and I hope I will be able to continue to further my career. Being an apprentice has been a really great experience and opportunity for me and I would really recommend it as a career path.
Being in the workplace as opposed to full time college for the last 3 years, I have not only gained lots of experience but I have earned a good wage, been able to buy my own car and save some money for my future. I have developed much faster with my skill rate than I would have in college and have managed to secure myself a good job in a company that I like, doing something that I love.

From Churchview Joinery
From a company perspective taking on apprentices is incredibly rewarding and an excellent way to "grow" your company. Without exception all of our apprentices have made us very proud. Watching them grow and develop from shy teenagers into confident young adults, improving their skills, communication and work ethics along the way really makes us feel that we are helping the next generation of joiners on their career paths. The time served joiners enjoy passing on their skills as much as the apprentices enjoy learning from them and every single member of my staff started their careers in joinery through an apprenticeship.

Jake Wilson
About the Author

Jake Wilson

Apprentice at Churchview Joinery Ltd

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