From education to employment

From teen apprentice to director in nine years – Westwind Oak celebrates the value of apprenticeships

sam apprentice south west company

Somerset company Westwind Oak, one of the exhibitors at this month’s South West Homebuilding & Renovating Show, is keen to show the value of apprenticeships and is celebrating one of its directors, Sam Waring, who began in the company as a 17-year-old apprentice.

This comes at a time when the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has just reported that the number of apprentices starting in small and medium businesses in the UK has dropped by 49% in the four years from 2017 to 2021. The CIPD says six out of ten British employers have provided some kind training in the past 12 months compared with two out of three employers who provided training in 2017.

Sam Waring began his apprenticeship at the oak frame building company straight from school in 2009 and says he initially made a lot of oak dowels (pegs) as he learned the fundamental skills of the trade alongside his more experienced colleagues. Later he helped teach new apprentices to advance their own skills. In 2018 the company became employee owned and Sam was made a director alongside two of his colleagues.

Sam says:

“It’s been challenging but really rewarding trying to shape the company’s vision and adapt to changes in the economy and the construction industry. And for anyone thinking about doing an apprenticeship no matter what age you are, I’d say it’s a great way to allow you to learn on the job, build links and to develop the necessary skills and experience needed to drive your career successfully into the future.”

Westwind Oak Chairman, Rupert Newman says:

“Apprenticeships form a very important part of what makes Westwind Oak successful today. To train to become a master craftsperson takes many years and becoming an apprentice is the start of that journey. Sam started his journey in 2009 as a teenager and nine years later has risen through the company to become a director. If there is ever any evidence needed of the value of becoming an apprentice, then surely that is it.”

Westwind Oak will be exhibiting at the South West Homebuilding & Renovating Show, from 18-19 November at the Bath & West Showground, Somerset where showgoers will be able to experience products from over 140 exhibitors. The key elements of homebuilding and renovating from planning permission to interior design will be highlighted at 20 masterclasses and seminars in the show’s two theatres and visitors can book one-to-one sessions with the experts.

Free reader tickets to the South West Homebuilding & Renovating Show are available here.

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