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East Riding College

First in our series looking at what employers around the country want from students applying for jobs, we talk to Craig Leach, Curriculum Leader in Construction & Engineering at East Riding College(ERC) in Yorkshire, to find out what employers in the area are looking for from students on carpentry & joinery courses.

Creativity, excellent hand skills and a willing, positive attitude are three things which will make you stand out as a potential employee, says ERC’s Craig Leach: “Carpentry and joinery is a creative business,” he relates. “You very much need the right skills to do the job but you also need the vision to know what you want something to look like when you’re creating it,” he explains.

“At East Riding College we help our students to find their own creativity through our ‘Enterprise’ projects. Students come up with an idea for something useful which is then made and further improved. We also undertake projects out in the community which put the skills they’re learning to use in a real-life context. Gaining confidence this way is important when it comes to finding a job and impressing a potential employer,” ERC’s Craig Leach says.

He continues: “We also help students to understand the ways of business. Our Level 3 students, for example, get to price up a job, learning how to take a project forward with a customer. Softer skills like punctuality, personal presentation and attitude are also important. Our students wear clothing with the college logo on when they go out for work experience, instilling a sense of pride in their learning and at the same time showing themselves as a presentable potential employee.

“House-builders today are moving more towards Modern Methods of Construction, or MMC, and pre-fabricating timber housing in a factory-type environment before it’s erected on site. In our area, general housing and MMC projects, from school extensions to hospitals, are big employers of carpenters – there are less bench joinery jobs or heritage work available. One of our biggest carpentry employers uses traditional carpentry skills in creating its pre-fabricated housing, so our students need to be able to show off their hand skills,” ERC’s Craig Leach adds.

Are there opportunities for women in carpentry & joinery? ERC’s Craig Leach certainly thinks so: “We are certainly getting more young women – and even mature female students – coming onto our courses,” he reports. “I would encourage more applications from female students as carpenters and joiners are in high demand everywhere and it’s a worthwhile, satisfying career.

“Employers are looking for potential employees with the right attitude towards work who are really interested in what they do and are confident about giving things a go. One of our students, Luke Hodson, recently received a local business bursary for the enthusiastic way he’s applied himself to learning through lockdown and the genuine excitement he shows when he’s achieved something. If you can mirror that attitude you won’t go far wrong with any employer,” ERC’s Craig Leach concludes.

Image: East Riding College Construction Department student Luke Hodson won a local business bursary for his approach to his studies during the pandemic. 

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