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Apprentice of the Year 2013 confirms importance of apprenticeships

Fresh from winning the Apprentice of the Year 2013 national competition earlier this year, carpentry apprentice Harry Halligan has been opening up about the benefits of being an apprentice.

Harry, 22, from Bashley, New Milton, fought off stiff competition from other carpentry apprentices across the UK to snap up the coveted award in August of this year. He was one of three finalists selected from across the country to test their woodwork skills to the limit.

Arranged by the Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF), resin supplier Huntsman and wood manufacturers’ Norbord and SmartPly, the competition – which runs each year in support of the JOSB Done campaign – saw the finalists tasked with constructing a piece of furniture out of Oriented Strand Board in just 90 minutes.

The competition took place in one of the two OSB mills in UK and Ireland, and was judged by industry experts, Builders Merchant News reported.

WPIF operations director, Jim McCann, told the news source: “The competition was incredibly close throughout and we had two very strong and sturdy chair designs from Dean and Shaun. However, Harry’s picnic table and chairs set, considering it was created in just 90 minutes and used only one 8 x 4ft OSB panel, was outstanding. Reducing waste remains a top priority in the construction industry and the fact that Harry used so much of the board, making the most of his materials was key in our decision to award him the title.

“All three competitors were passionate about what they do and the level of workmanship and attention to detail was outstanding. I would say that both Hampshire and Glasgow should be really pleased that they have such fantastic carpenters working among them,” he added.

Harry said that he was “really surprised when my name was called out,” as a result of the other two finalists having put forward such strong entries. He has voiced his opinion on the importance of apprenticeships for young people across the country, as they can offer them opportunities to earn while they learn, as well as providing a real confidence boost and an invaluable way to pick up interpersonal and practical skills that will set them on the road to a promising career.

With the housebuilding sector in the UK reporting record highs, according to the recent Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index, there are many opportunities for young apprentices working across the carpentry sector, like Harry, or indeed across the electrical, decorating and bricklaying sectors too.