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City College Plymouth

In the sixth of our interviews with lecturers at IOC member colleges, we talk to John Boult, CLO at City College Plymouth,


Although Plymouth is often associated with marine engineering and science, it is also a key area for the building trades. The Joint Local Plan for Plymouth and South West Devon is aiming to deliver 26,700 new homes by 2034, meaning plenty of potential work in construction. City College Plymouth’s IOC College Liaison Officer, John Bolt, tells us more. 

New-builds abound

“One of the biggest projects locally is an entire new town to be built between Plymouth and Ivybridge, which will mean around 20 years of construction activity, so there’s a lot of potential for work in site carpentry. We have quite a good employment situation in the area,” John explains. 

“A lot of students come to us as apprentices for local companies; but the selection process for getting these apprenticeships can be tough. Employers look for young people who want to do the job because they really enjoy carpentry and joinery and are committed to it as a career. After all, it’s a vocation offering a life-long interesting career, so you need to show that it’s truly what you want to do. They also want youngsters who behave properly and have good time-keeping, which is important to anyone running a business.”

Show your commitment

“Take things that you’ve made along with you to the interview; anything you can show. For example, you’ve helped perhaps your dad or your uncle with woodworking jobs: it demonstrates that you’re keen to learn more. It’s getting harder to get these placements as there’s a lot of competition, so be the best you can be,” John Bolt continues. 

“Different types of employers may need different sets of skills. It may be best to start off working for a traditional general building firm, where you get all kinds of experience from first fix to hanging doors – somewhere you can see the whole process through. This will give you a good idea of which aspects of the job appeal to you most. 

“The modern methods of construction now being used – prefabricated housing in factories away from site – still need carpentry and joinery skills, but the work is more to do with assembling a kit of parts around the basic framework. However, there’s lots of work in this sector and it may give you a solid start in the industry.”

John concludes: “Carpentry and joinery is a rewarding career: you can drive around the area looking at buildings you’ve helped to build or houses you’ve helped to refurbish and feel proud of what you’ve done. And that’s quite something.”


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