Drew O’Mara joined the TIGERS Employability Fund programme in November 2018 - referred by Skills Development Scotland - and progressed to a Bench Hand Joinery Apprenticeship at Thomas Johnstone Ltd. Drew highlights how work experience has helped to develop his confidence…
How did you find your transition from TIGERS to Thomas Johnstone Ltd?
Transitioning from a training environment to a working environment was completely different. Although there is a practical element while in training at TIGERS, the work experience at Thomas Johnstone Ltd helped me develop personally and professionally. I felt the support from both organisations helped me to settle in. During the transition, people were friendly and there was no awkwardness.
What does a typical day look like as an Apprentice?
I am heavily involved in practical work in the workshop. I really enjoy working at Thomas Johnstone Ltd because everyone gets along, and you can have a bit of chat whilst working away. I have learned that you can do anything if you put in the work and push yourself towards it.
A bench hand joiner is required to work with millimetre precision. This means demonstrating high quality workmanship with wood and having an eye for detail.
I normally start at 7:30am, then my day would consist mainly of practical work. At the end of the day I am tasked with multiple checks – including in the yard, ensuring that health and safety procedures are being followed.
What challenges have you faced in your role?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced is reading the drawings. As a bench hand joiner this involves being confident in interpreting the information shown. I was provided with support from colleagues to help develop my understanding. It can be difficult to see the complete picture that all of the lines and numbers are creating, but I’m at college now learning how to look at and understand drawings. I’m confident that with the support network I have at both college and Thomas Johnstone Ltd that I will overcome this challenge.
Another challenge was my confidence in general. However, now that I am settled I feel more open, so I can talk to colleagues and build relationships. This has led to me being able to work more independently and ask for help when needed.
Ross MacLeod, Workshop Manager, provided insight into Drew’s journey so far…
When Drew came to Thomas Johnstone Ltd for his 8 weeks work experience, our quota for apprentices was actually full for the year. However his determination, ability and all round attitude was enough to convince me that we had to make a space for him in the workshop.
Drew continues to show the same attitude and ability which demonstrates that we have made the correct decision. We look forward to seeing Drew progress in college and work towards becoming an exceptionally good tradesman.