Morgan Syms, Apprentice through the Shared Apprenticeship South West scheme

Shared Apprenticeship scheme is life changing for Devon teenager

Devon teenager Morgan Syms has always known that an academic career path wasn’t for him. Struggling with dyslexia and preferring practical subjects at school, he began researching a career in the construction industry, discovering the Shared Apprenticeship South West Company (SASW). He has since been taken on as an apprentice carpenter and is making a name for himself as a keen and dedicated worker.

Excelling as an apprentice is a family affair for the 17 year old whose twin brother Miles also enrolled on the SASW scheme as a trainee carpenter, alongside Morgan. And the pair have a fantastic role model in dad Neil who trained as an apprentice when he first started out in the construction industry. Working his way up through the trade, Neil is now a contract manager.

Following in the footsteps of their dad, Morgan and Miles hit the ground running on two separate building sites in the South West. Morgan began learning his trade with his host contractor BAM building the South Devon University Technology College, Newton Abbot, where he spent his time cutting, shaping, fitting and finishing a variety of elements across the campus. He then moved on to the Willmott Dixon developments of the Met Office building in Exeter along with the University of Exeter.

Morgan, who lives in Chudleigh Knighton, near Newton Abbot, said: “The SASW started me off in the trade and I haven’t stopped since, it has been brilliant. Dyslexia has impacted on my life but it has also helped direct me towards a new career. I am constantly learning and I’m really enjoying being able to watch the rest of the carpenters who are all helping me to truly understand and perfect the craft.

“I have really enjoyed getting involved and doing the same jobs as everyone else on site. I’ve really felt part of the team.”

This month (February), Morgan is set to join a new team of traders on the site of the multi-million pound refurbishment of one of Plymouth’s most iconic buildings, which is home to the city museum.

He said: “Traders are keen to get me involved, they need extra manpower to complete each job and they have all been pleased to help me train and grow. I was supposed to be on each site for 13 weeks at a time but each placement has asked me to stay on until the developments have been completed. It has been great to see a job through to the finish and been a real confidence boost to know that the contractors have such faith in my abilities and could see that I have worked hard.”

Along with working on a variety of sites across the region, Morgan also spends one day a week studying towards his Level 2 Diploma in Site Carpentry at Exeter College. He is also hoping to continue on and complete his Level 3 Diploma, which could allow him to take on a more supervisory role.

After two years with the SASW scheme, apprentices are supported to find their own permanent job and career in the industry. Morgan added that his time on construction sites, had also helped him to build up a list of contacts within the construction industry, giving him an advantage going forward.

He said: “More people should look at the possibility of an apprenticeship. I have learned so many new, practical skills that I wouldn’t have got from traditional classroom qualifications.

“The skills I have learned will take me wherever I want to go. I am interested in working abroad and I know that my carpentry can be adapted to suit many different roles.

“More people need to learn about the SASWand its scheme, it can be life changing.”

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