Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week 2022

By Anita Jaynes on 7 February, 2022

This week, Monday 7th February – Sunday 13th February it’s the 15th National Apprenticeship Week which aims to show how apprenticeships have a positive impact on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

This year’s theme is ‘build the future’ and now more than ever that sentiment will resonate with those businesses looking for talent over the coming weeks and months.

Throughout the week we’re going to be sharing local apprenticeship success stories. Today we hear from construction firm Stonewood Group, based in Castle Combe.

The group currently has nine apprentices across its five divisions, mostly learning trades such as carpentry, bricklaying, plastering and groundwork.

Archie Smart, who will be 20 in March, is in his second year of a level 2 apprenticeship in carpentry. He joined Stonewood Builders as a labourer straight from school two years ago and leapt at the chance to begin an apprenticeship.

Stonewood Group apprentice, Archie Smart

Archie, said, “I’ve always been interested in the building industry and wanted to go down the carpentry route. The good thing about apprenticeships is that you get paid while you are learning. University never really appealed to me, doing something more practical was what I really wanted.”

He spends each day on site with the company’s skilled carpenters and is currently working on a collection of barn conversions at Grittleton, near Chippenham for Stonewood Homes’ forthcoming development. He goes to South Gloucestershire and Stroud College’s Filton campus one day a fortnight but says the variety and quality of Stonewood’s work is progressing his learning.

“Stonewood does really nice, high-quality jobs with the best materials and I feel like I have learned a lot more skills with them,” he says. “The jobs we are working on are on older houses with no straight lines and the guys are using their experience and skills to solve the problems as they go. I’ve been on four Stonewood sites and not one project has been the same. I feel like I’m getting to do all aspects of carpentry, which a lot of people on my college course haven’t had the chance to do.”

21-year-old, Ben Bullus joined Stonewood Builders after studying bricklaying at college but he is now in the first year of a plastering apprenticeship in Bristol, spending four days a week on site. He said, “I quite liked bricklaying but I got a chance to work with the plasterers and I found that it came more naturally to me.

Stonewood Group apprentice, Ben Bullus

“Stonewood offered me the chance to do the apprenticeship and I am really enjoying it.”

He said working on a variety of listed building renovations has broadened his experience. “There’s a lot to learn but I’m really enjoying it,” he says. “On different sites there’s always something new to learn. Recently we had to plaster round a mosaic and that was tricky but it was really satisfying to do.”

Ben, added, “Apprenticeships are really good because once you have that certificate you can do anything and you get so much learning experience while you are being paid. Stonewood have been really supportive of me.”

Stonewood Group Chief Operating Officer Ben Lang, said, “Growing and developing people from within the business has been one of our greatest successes.”

Stonewood Builders won the South West Federation of Master Builders awards three times for its apprentices, most recently Ed Brosch in 2021. It also took home the national apprenticeship award in 2015 with Steve Davey.

To find out more about careers with Stonewood Group visit: stonewoodpartnerships.co.uk