Case study

Apprentice carpenter and joiner — Ryan McLaughlin

Ryan completed a carpentry and joinery apprenticeship with national housebuilder, Miller Homes in conjunction with South Lanarkshire College

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

Joinery is something that has always interested me, so when I finished school, I knew it was something I should look into. While I could have joined the trade through a full-time college course, I wanted to get hands-on experience as soon as possible to start developing my skills.

How did you find your apprenticeship?

When I left school, I started looking at available options, searching out work experience and courses wherever possible. I was made aware of a programme being run by The Princes Trust called 'Get Into Housebuilding' so I decided to apply. I was successful in securing a place on an initial six-week programme. Miller Homes had pledged to support the programme, and I was invited to an interview with two of the contract managers. It went very smoothly, and I began working with the company a month later.

How does the apprenticeship work?

It's a four-year course, which was been split between working on-site and studying at college.

During the first year, I spent two weeks on site, then two weeks in the classroom learning about the theory and the health and safety side of the job. In the second year, I spent a week at college, and the final two years involved purely site work, which I preferred.

What did you enjoy about your apprenticeship?

Being on site and getting my hands dirty is what I liked the best. I also made a lot of friends while learning about the different aspects of the housebuilding industry.

Now that I'm at the end of the four year programme, I'm happy to say that I still enjoy every part of joinery, which means I chose the right career.

What was the most challenging part?

As someone who prefers the practical part of my job, I found college exams and the fact that I had to complete a lot of coursework quite tough. I work better with practical projects, but I knew it was part of the course, so I just pushed through.

What do you plan to do after your apprenticeship?

I'm delighted to have secured a permanent position with Excel, one of Miller Homes' subcontractors. I can't wait to continue to improve my skills and work portfolio and build a career in joinery.

What advice would you give others planning to do an apprenticeship?

If you're considering learning a trade, or you're interested in housebuilding, then explore your options and go for it. Work should be something you genuinely enjoy, so nothing should stop you from doing it professionally.

I'd also advise you to stick at it, even when the hours seem long. There were a couple of days where I felt like I had hit a brick wall, especially with the theory side of things, but it's all worth it and it really does pay off in the end.

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