A Nescot Bench Joinery student has been named as one of three people shortlisted as Apprentice of the Year in a national competition.
James Holligan was nominated by his employer with support from the college and was invited to the British Woodworking Federation Awards ceremony in central London in November, presented by the musician, journalist and Church of England priest Rev Richard Coles.
James attended with his employer, bespoke joinery and design practice Woodland of Kingston. He didn’t win the overall award, but spoke of his pride at being shortlisted from more than 600 people who applied.
“My manager told me that because so many people apply and we’re a small company, the chances of me being successful were tiny,” he said.
“When I found out I’d been shortlisted I couldn’t believe it. It’s shown me that my work is appreciated and recognised, which motivates me to keep improving.”
James, who is 28 and has a seven-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son, initially studied for A-Levels and began a Foundation Degree in Civil Engineering.
He realised the career path wasn’t the right fit for him, and after learning about a national shortage of qualified bricklayers and joiners he applied to study at Nescot.
“The teaching and the support from Nescot has been amazing,” he said. “The tutors put in so much time to get you to the highest possible standard so that you can do well in your career.
“I’m really happy in my work, and I’m hoping to stay there and progress – I’m learning new skills all the time, like programming machines, and at the moment I’m training someone up.
“There’s a lot of variety, from the technical skills to the being able to be creative, and you’re doing a physical job and working with your hands, but also using new technologies.
“It makes such a difference to your life when you can get up in the morning and go to work to do a job you enjoy.”
Nescot’s Bench Joinery assessor Ian Hill praised the quality of James’s portfolio, and said he’d been glad to nominate him for the award.
He added: “James has learnt a huge amount since he’s been at Nescot, and it’s very rewarding to see him improve and progress. We’re glad to see him doing so well in a job he clearly enjoys.”
The British Woodworking Federation Awards 2018 was held at Stationer’s Hall in central London on November 23. Other award categories included Product Design, Process Efficiency, and Health and Safety Hero.