Karl’s story: A carpentry apprenticeship and beyond
Karl Davey is an apprentice carpenter studying for a NVQ Level 3 at Exeter College. In this article he talks to us about his learning experiences and future plans.
Direct Line for Business: Why did you choose the construction industry?
Karl Davey: I’ve been in construction all my life, both of my brothers are carpenters and they started taking me to sites when I was 13. I didn’t always set out to be a carpenter though, when I left school I started working as a self-employed labourer. But I got to the age of 24 and thought that I should professionally learn a trade.
Direct Line for Business: Why did you choose this apprenticeship and what other options were you considering when you made your decision?
KD: I was also considering a career in the military, but carpentry was the only apprenticeship course that appealed to me. I saw it as an elite trade and had always enjoyed my previous experiences with woodwork.
I’ve been with my employer, Fifields Construction since I left school. I asked them if I could do my apprenticeship through them, and they agreed.
Direct Line for Business: What are some practical skills/techniques you're learning?
KD: We learn a lot of various things, starting with the basics of carpentry and machine safety. At the moment, I’m learning about roofing, which is complex because you’ve got a lot of different angles to calculate. But the difficulty is what makes it enjoyable! Alongside this, I continue to learn how to use different machinery and how to maintain it to ensure it stays safe.
Direct Line for Business: What are some of the social skills that you're learning?
KD: We’re always around the public so being polite and friendly is really key. As I’ve been self-employed before, I learnt the significance of timekeeping back then. It’s as simple as, if you don’t turn up, you don’t get paid!
Being able to build good relationships with merchants and suppliers is advantageous as it can work in your favour. For them, it’s important to know the terminology of your trade. I grew up with it so that hasn’t been difficult for me, but it always helps to know what you’re talking about. It shows that you will need less support and spend less time asking what things are.
Direct Line for Business: Tell us about your award win:
KD: I won the Level 2 Apprentice of the Year award for Exeter College. I was recognised at an awards event in which my employer was also invited to, and also won an employer award. The winner was chosen by the faculty with input from employers. It was a great surprise to win; it’s always nice to be appreciated.
Direct Line for Business: What do you hope to do once you finish your apprenticeship?
KD: I haven’t decided yet, but I’m considering either working full-time, or continuing to study towards another qualification with the support of my employer.
A contract or site manager qualification really appeals to me, but I’ve even looked at studying towards being a health and safety officer. Although I really enjoy my job, I’m always looking at future progression opportunities.
Direct Line for Business: Why would you recommend an apprenticeship to a school leaver or someone who is considering a career/education change?
KD: For a school leaver, the construction industry is a great place to be as long as you’re willing to work hard. There is a range of different jobs to choose from and there are a variety of locations you could be working in. It’s great to be able to develop a bond with the people that you work with on site. There’s always time for a laugh and a bit of camaraderie!
I was a bit older when I started and felt like I needed to challenge myself to improve my job prospects and earning potential. It’s hard sometimes, doing college work in the evenings after a long day at work, but I’m confident that my investment into the apprenticeship will pay off.
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