The Carpenter, The Joiner and The Furniture Maker

The recent Building Crafts College end of year show at Carpenters’ Hall was a fitting culmination of a year of training, teaching and guidance from the dedicated tutors at this specialist college which Nord is proud to support. The show demonstrated the breadth of skills developed at the BCC ranging from carpentry and copper pipework to fine woodwork and furniture making.

The joy and reward of making things and seeing things made reminds us how important it is to keep cultivating and advancing the technical skills and trades that underpin our construction industry. One of the reasons for starting our Help for Apprentices Fund was to make sure that the enthusiasm and latent talent in young adults was captured and nurtured, particularly at a time when the shortage of construction skills is becoming ever more evident. Investing in school programmes, apprenticeships and other training courses ensures that the talent pool is supported, which in turn brings huge benefits to our sector.

We were similarly heartened by a recent trip to the Southwark Construction Skills Centre at Elephant and Castle. This training hub, housed in a dedicated facility at Lendlease’s Elephant Park regeneration site, was established by Southwark Council in partnership with Lendlease to provide on-site training. It is estimated that 60% of those that pass through the Skills Centre – whether they be school leavers or older trainees –subsequently move into an employed role. So not only does the industry obtain those much needed construction skills, but the local economy and community also benefit through employment gains.

The capabilities of the skilled maker are not however limited to the construction site. The talented final year students of the BCC’s Fine Woodwork and Furniture Making programme moved their exquisite pieces from Carpenters’ Hall to the New Designers exhibition at The Business Design Centre. It is here that the very best in innovative and original furniture and product designs are showcased with offerings from other universities, colleges and design schools. But as lead tutor Neil Austin explained, all the students on his course first needed to complete a joinery programme so that their technical expertise complemented their creative and design skills.

The pieces exhibited were exceptional and finished by the students themselves to an exacting standard. Two pieces were picked out by John Lewis as part of their top ten show highlights. And one of these pieces also received the prestigious award for the standout design of the entire show. Congratulations to Rowena Edwards and her mobile drinks unit which we hope will be put into production soon.

The impact of the skilled maker cannot be underestimated. They bring expertise and innovation to the sectors in which they operate and enable our construction, architectural and design industries to thrive. Trainees, apprentices, students and post-graduates contribute in a vast number of ways but rely on the support of specialist teachers, government funding and the private sector to nurture their talent. Investment in today’s makers contributes to tomorrow’s economy. And we are delighted to be a small part of that cycle.

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