With so much emphasis in recent years being put on encouraging young people to go to university to gain a professional degree, there is today a distinct lack of fully qualified trades, such as carpenters, electricians and plumbers.
This has led to a real skills shortage in the construction industry – and for the more entrepreneurial among you, a real opportunity to fulfil an ever growing need.
Carpenters – a dying breed or an opportunity for growth
Carpenters probably don’t get the attention and kudos they deserve. The attention to detail and precision engineering belies a range of skills and artistry that evolves over decades of a career. However, it is rarely a career that gets much attention in schools, and more often than not those skills are learnt on the job rather than in the classroom.
Local colleges will usually run carpentry courses after which you will receive a City and Guilds. Once you have received this initial qualification, you can apply for an apprenticeship and eventually work towards being a master craftsman. One thing is for sure, in today’s economic climate you will never be out of work.
Being skilled in a sought after trade means that you can make the most of a more independent way of life and set yourself up in business. A job with someone else will give you a sense of security, and should be a path you follow initially to gather as much on site experience as possible. When you’re ready, you have a couple of options when going it alone.
As a subcontractor you can offer your services to bigger carpentry firms, or larger projects. Alternatively, you can advertise yourself as the prime contractor, working directly with customers yourself. Whichever option you choose there are various steps you need to take to make sure you comply with rules and regulations.
Professional indemnity insurance
There is no getting away with it, you will have to purchase a professional indemnity insurance cover. Not only does it cover you and third parties in the event of an accident, but if you are working as a contractor most companies will not employ your services unless you have insurance.
Equally, may of the key advertising platforms as well, where you will find the bulk of your work initially, will only let you advertise if you have insurance.
Invest in the tools of your trade
The tools of your trade are going to be an essential part of you throughout your entire working life, so make sure you buy the best and look after them. Cutting tools, oscillating blades, chisels, clamps, drills and drivers – a good set of tools becomes an extension of who you are.
Alongside this, you absolutely must ensure that those very tools are kept locked and safe when you are not using them. A recent survey found that a quarter of van drivers have been targeted by thieves stealing tools from their vans. An average of 20,000 cases of tool theft have been allegedly reported to the police, amounting to a replacement cost of over £15 million. The more difficult you make it for the thieves, the less chance of your own tools being taken.
Once established, your career as a carpentry will provide great satisfaction. As you gain more and more projects under your belt, your reputation will grow. The creation of tangible products which give other people security and pleasure in their homes – whether it is an original staircase, a bookcase, or the timber frame of a new home, will be standing for generations to come.