Owen's apprenticeship journey

As our new apprentices start out down their career path with Bernicia this week, we hear from multi-skilled joiner Owen Sellar, two years into his apprenticeship with Bernicia.

Owen is impressing all with his skills, attitude and work ethic, fulfilling a boyhood dream to follow in his Dad’s footsteps into joinery.

“I did a joinery class when I was ten-years-old,” he said.

“We all went onsite and saw how joiners were working and I just loved it. But the real inspiration comes from my Dad. Him and his friends decided they wanted to build seven houses together (don’t ask me why haha).

“He would always bring me and my brother on site and show us the things they were doing. So it’s at ten that I heard about stud walls work and building plans for the first time. Since then, I’ve been fascinated with it really.”

Owen jumped at the chance of an apprenticeship with Bernicia and hasn’t looked back since he impressed the employability team at interview who head up the apprenticeship programme.

“To be honest with you, when I applied for the role at Bernicia, I had been waiting for that opportunity for over two years,” said Owen.

“One of my friends, Andrew Smith, who is a multi skilled plasterer here at Bernicia, told me about the vacancy and I jumped on the chance. I still remember that to the question ‘Why do you want to join Bernicia’, I wrote the most natural response for me: ‘Being a joiner has been my dream since I was a kid and I wanted to work for Bernicia since I was 17. I know I would get the best possible training here. I think there’s no better place to learn at.’

“I couldn’t be happier with it! My onboarding has been fantastic. Jackie Johnson from the employability team and Victoria Wilson from the people services team gave us a brilliant overview of how things would be, and I haven’t been disappointed. There is not one single day where I don’t feel supported by my team. Everyone is super friendly and helpful. So yeah, the reality matched with my expectations.”

Owen is taking in a wealth of learning from Bernicia’s trades specialists who have many years experience in their professions.

“To be fair, you never know in advance what you’ll be doing and that’s what I love about my job,” he said.

“Every morning, I receive a spreadsheet with the list of void properties and jobs to do. The actual job there can vary from fitting a new kitchen, to hanging doors and door frames. It’s completely different from one day to the next, which is exciting. In terms of skills, I’ve learnt pretty much all the basics. Now, it’s all about mastering those skills.

“Alec Boyd is my manager, and he did something that was probably the best way for me to master the skills I’ve learnt. He basically asked me: ‘Which jobs do you feel less confident with?’

“Whichever these were, he put me on them so that I can feel comfortable and confident working on anything. He gave me the chance to learn the best joinery skills, encouraged me to push myself. I’m pleased and grateful he did it.

I’m always very proud to see the results when I finish a job or get feedback on it. I also need to thank Mitch (Anthony Mitchinson) because I learnt so much working with him on my first year. Now I work with Michael Finan our multi skilled operative which is great because I learn other working approaches with him or sometimes from other teams.

“I’ve got one more year to go. I love my job and I’m happy at Bernicia.

“We’ll see what the future holds, maybe trying to become a team leader or manager who knows, but obviously that’s not until a good couple of years. What’s certain is that I’d love to stay at Bernicia. I really feel like it’s the right road for me.”