From education to employment

Teenage carpentry apprentice hopes to carve out career in building trade

Apprentice carpenter Harley Leonard is aiming to carve out a career in the construction industry after joining Vistry Group at the age of 16.

The teenager is learning on the job after joining the housebuilder on a three-year apprenticeship in September 2023. He’s currently working at Vistry’s The Quarters @ Redhill location in Telford.

Harley, who set his sights on a job in the building trade after a week’s work experience with the developer while still at school, is currently undertaking a Level 2 qualification in carpentry. 

As the country marks National Apprenticeship Week (Monday 5 to Sunday 11 February), Vistry is celebrating the benefits of the training scheme for young people like Harley.

Harley said: “I did a week’s work experience at a Vistry development when I was 15 and I loved it. I was given an insight into what it was like to be an electrician, a bricklayer, a plumber and a carpenter and I knew which one was for me.

“With carpentry, there seemed to be a lot of different jobs to be done so that you were not just doing the same tasks over and over again, which appealed to me. I went back to school but I knew what I wanted to do as a career.

“Being in the classroom really didn’t work for me at all. I like working with my hands and being outside rather than being stuck inside all day. Some of my friends are now studying for their A-levels but I am so happy to be learning my trade and to be paid as well. They might go onto university and have to take on a loan while I will have been working and earning for years. I would rather be in my position than theirs any day.”

Harley, from Lawley, near Telford, is currently attending Shrewsbury College every Monday as part of his apprenticeship, and is due to take his Level 2 exams after two years and his Level 3 in 2026.

“I am working in a team of three and my colleagues are always there for me, taking the time to patiently show me how to perform new tasks and to explain processes to me,” he said. “When I first started, I didn’t know much and was only able to tackle basic jobs such as putting on skirting boards and installing loft hatches, but I have progressed and can now get involved with putting up stud walls and hanging doors.

“Everyone on site has been brilliant which includes the site manager Stephen Thomas, who has let me know that his door is always open if I need to chat to him about my role or need to sort something out with regard to my apprenticeship course.

“I am really looking forward to finishing the college course and becoming a fully qualified carpenter. My ambition is to stay here at Vistry and to go into management and become a site manager. That would be great.”

Stephen Thomas, site manager at The Quarters @ Redhill, said:

“Despite his tender years, Harley is a confident and competent member of the carpentry team who has shown he is a natural for the job. His enthusiasm and ‘can do’ attitude are infectious and he is a popular and respected colleague.

“Harley is a perfect example of how the apprenticeship scheme allows us to find the best talent and attract them to the industry, where we can provide them with training and encourage them to grow while they progress and reach their full potential.”

Bovis Homes and Linden Homes, which are part of Vistry Group along with Countryside Homes, are currently building 450 new homes at The Quarters @ Redhill.

For more information about apprenticeships and careers with Vistry Group, visit here.

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