Teenage joiner Oliver Walker wins top apprentice award

Oliver Walker, apprentice of the year at  British Woodworking Federation.
Oliver Walker, apprentice of the year at British Woodworking Federation.

A rising star of the woodworking and joinery industry has nailed a top honour.

Oliver Walker, 18, who works for Gowercroft Joinery in 
Alfreton, has won Apprentice of the Year at the prestigious British Woodworking Federation Awards.

He was recognised for his outstanding achievements, commitment and personal development, beating two other hopefuls shortlisted in the category.

Andrew Madge, managing director at Gowercroft Joinery, said: “Oliver joined us in 2015, at the start of his second year of the bench joinery apprenticeship at Learning Unlimited via Chesterfield College. He has fully immersed himself in the company, working across many different areas, including surveying, production and design as well as machining, installation and servicing.

“His workmanship and eye for detail is impressive; his work on the design and assembly of a bespoke window sample for a property in Mayfair led to the client and architect placing a full order for windows and doors – totalling over six figures in revenue. We truly believe he has a great career ahead of him.”

With more than 16,000 new entrants needed in the wood trades by 2018, compared to 2014, the sector is facing a skills shortage. Nurturing up-and-coming talent into the industry is one way to help overcome this shortage. According to figures from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), joinery apprenticeships – like the one Oliver is taking part in - account for 32% of all construction apprenticeships.

Oliver said: “I’m so happy to have won – I can’t believe it! I’ve worked really hard and it’s humbling to be recognised not only by my employer but also the industry as a whole.

“Having the apprenticeship at Gowercroft Joinery has hugely improved my skill set and my long term goal is to run my own joinery company one day; something I wouldn’t have thought was possible before this apprenticeship.”

The Apprentice of the Year Award, sponsored by CITB, is one of two awards which celebrates the success of the rising stars of the joinery industry. The award recognises apprentices who have really stood out during their time with a joinery company.