Award-winning bespoke kitchen retailer Simon Taylor of Simon Taylor Furniture studied the craft of furniture making at Rycotewood College, in Oxfordshire, and has taken on apprentices in association with the educational establishment. We talk to its furniture lead, Joshua Hudson, about tutoring the next generation of master craftspeople.
Q: How popular are the trade-based courses with young people and has that changed over the past two years?
A: We have seen a huge rise in apprenticeships over the last three years, with more than 50 apprentices on programmes this year, compared to 12 three years ago.
Employers have recognised that investment into new team members is vital to the growth of their business.
This is due to many aspects from a skills gap to aging workforces, the realisation that training the next generation of makers is key.
Q: What is the level of enthusiasm like among the students?
A: There is a great energy amongst students when they are on block release at Rycotewood college, being able to engage with other apprentices from other companies from all round the country, stretching and challenging each other with high expectations bought from industry.
The Rycotewood workshops are a vibrant and creative place to be.
What are their expectations at the start of the course and how do they compare to the end of the course? Q:
A: For many, starting an apprenticeship can be a daunting prospect. Expectations are set out from the very beginning of the course, along with the knowledge their journey is just starting.
It is a key developmental time for a young person in their lives. It is an honour and pleasure to guide them through this time.
By the end of the course, apprentices have become focussed on their career pathway and developed as young people.
Q: What advantage is it for a young person to formally study a trade?
A: An apprenticeship is a structured programme which engages both apprentice and employer, giving security they will develop their knowledge skills and behaviours without being exploited in the workplace.
Q: Who should be responsible for encouraging young people into a trade?
A: It is everybody’s responsibility, ours as trainers’, industry to showcase there is a long career in a creative and skilled trade, up to Government to incentivise industry and put greater focus into apprenticeships.
Schools need to recognise not all young people will fit into the traditional style of education and apprenticeships are a fantastic pathway into a career.
Q: How do you prepare young people for the world of work?
A: It is a huge step for young people moving from education into industry, physically and emotionally. We support and guide young people and their mentors in industry to build them in a steady and structured approach.
Q: What would you say to businesses about employing young people?
A: Engage, support and trust young people. Bringing them into our industry will, in return, provide new energy and new thinking for their businesses.
They need structure and support to build them into key members of a team.