Building work beats body building hands down, says our apprentice

  |   Joinery, Training

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Aaron Lawton, from Flixton, was on his way to buy his girlfriend some flowers when he got the phone call he’d been waiting for.

It was our Ops Director Ken Burke calling to say Aaron’s apprenticeship funding had come through and he was now officially hired as our trainee joiner. A few minutes later, Ken was driving Aaron to his first job.

“I was a bit eager – a bit keen to start,” says Aaron, who had called us weeks earlier off his own bat to say he wanted to be our apprentice.
“I love learning new things and making my family proud,” he says. “My girlfriend Linzi says when we get a house I’ve got to do lots of different jobs on it. She quite likes the fact that she’s got a boyfriend who can do different things.”

When Aaron left school at 16 he studied to be a personal trainer, but his step dad advised him to invest in learning a trade.

“I do prefer the construction trade over personal training. Because with personal training you’re just working 1:1 with a client for an hour. But with construction you’re doing something different every day. I’m travelling to different places on different jobs, meeting lots of different clients.”

Multi-skilling – a grounding in construction

When he started at Trafford Builders, Aaron thought he’d just be doing joinery. But our MD Ben Pepper says it’s important that apprentices learn a bit of all the trades, and have contact with customers and the rest of the team.

“We’re a domestic construction company so our priority is to bring in apprentices who will rise through the ranks,” says Ben “Once they become fully qualified they would be given the opportunity to run our projects under guidance of one of our directors. And if they want to leave Trafford Builders they will take transferable skills with them, including communication skills.”

Aaron enjoys learning how joinery fits in with other trades.

“I’ve done a door frame, skirting boards. I’ve made a roof with Ken. It had lots of timber joists coming down. I’m doing a lot of bricklaying as well. I’ve never done that before,” he says.

Fridays are study days

Mondays to Thursdays are Trafford Builders days and Fridays Aaron spends in college. Aaron is on a level 2 apprenticeship in wood occupations – site carpentry and joinery. Over the 2 years course at The Greater Manchester Skill Centre in Trafford Park, he’s working towards a level 2 diploma.

The Skills Company advised us on funding including employer grants, organised Aaron’s enrolment and supplied an Assessor – an advanced craft joiner – to come out on site to help Aaron work towards his NVQ level 2, which is the site-based part of the apprenticeship framework.

We love a grafter

Are there any down sides to the job?
“The hardest thing is you get very tired very easily it’s quite a physical job when you’re moving stuff around. We have to knock down walls and then we’re running back and forth with stuff to the skip,” says Aaron.
“I’ve got stronger. lifting more things around, and heavier weights than I would lift in the gym. It’s more physically demanding on the body.”

So what’s the verdict, Aaron?

“I’d definitely recommend building. You experience new things and meet new people.”

Watch this space – we’ll update you on how Aaron’s doing, 6 months into the job.