Members of the Wasps rugby squad swapped rugby balls for saws and chisels when they attended a beginners’ carpentry workshop at Moreton Morrell College on Wednesday 15 May.

The aim of the session was to introduce the players to some of the vocational skills and training opportunities currently on offer at college. As a professional rugby player’s career is relatively short-lived, it is important they have a second profession to rely on when the time comes to retire. 

Under the close supervision of instructors from the college’s Construction Centre, the teammates undertook a variety of measuring, sawing and chiseling tasks which included perfecting cross halving joints in order to make their own picture frame. All seven enjoyed a day of learning new skills away from the daily routine of training schedules and fitness sessions.

The idea of a taster day came from Wasps flanker Jack Willis and fellow teammate Tommy Taylor, who both spent a significant amount time off the pitch this season due to injury. Willis missed the majority of the campaign predominantly through a serious ligament injury to his knee, while hooker Taylor had a lengthy spell on the sidelines with concussion.

Willis said: “The workshop was a fantastic opportunity for the lads to try out some new skills and decide whether it could lead to a new career path. As I have discovered, an injury can catch you out at any time and it really makes you think what you are going to do when you retire from the game. As we are all so focused on our training, we all really enjoyed doing something completely different.”

Research conducted by the Federation of Master Builders revealed last year that a national shortage of construction workers is threatening the Government’s plan to build hundreds of thousands of houses annually.

Its report stated that companies are particularly struggling to recruit bricklayers and carpenters, with demand for skilled plumbers, electricians and plasterers also outstripping supply.

John Billings, senior curriculum leader in construction at Moreton Morrell College, said: “It was a great pleasure to host the lads for the day. They enjoyed the challenge, were very competitive and completed their tasks to a high standard.

“The UK construction industry is experiencing a boom at present with a national shortage of professionals to work in this sector. As a result of this skills gap, there will be plenty of job opportunities for skilled tradespeople for the next 20 years or more.”

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