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Career change brings rewards

Matthew Mead won the Institute of Carpenters’ first ever Third Year Student Award in November 2020. A student at the Building Crafts College, Matthew tells us how his change of career coming into carpentry and joinery has given him a new perspective on life and business. 

“Winning the Institute’s Award was quite a surprise,” says Matthew, “but for me it’s a rewarding validation of all the hard work that I’ve put in over the last few years. It’s also a reward for all the excellent tuition I’ve been lucky enough to have from tutors such at Antony Lainson at the Building Crafts College.” 

How did Matthew come into carpentry and joinery? “It’s been a long and winding road! I was a university lecturer for ten years, but became increasingly frustrated with my situation and was looking for a change. I’ve always enjoyed making things and I went on a couple of courses at the London Metropolitan University and the London School of Furniture. I found making things very pleasing and thought to myself ‘maybe I can do this’. 

“It took me 2-3 years to gradually change my life around and become able to study at the Building Crafts College. It’s an amazing place and I feel really privileged to study there. I started with a 2-day per week Level 2 Bench Joinery course and I’m now on Level 3. My tutors seem happy with what I’m doing but I’m very pragmatic about my skills and ability to create a viable future in ‘making’. 

“I’m now working for a cabinetmaker, which is allowing me to develop my craft skills further and to take pride in, and enjoy, making beautiful cabinetry. Education is important, but it’s experience that counts next. The more experience I can get, the more employable I will be. Eventually, I hope this will become a permanent job for me. 

 “I met my current employer at an Institute of Carpenters City Hub meeting at the Building Crafts College. He gave an inspirational insight into the work that he and his company undertake. I enjoy the process of thinking through what I’m creating and making the connection between head and hands – for me, it’s a conjunction between thinking and making. There are very few careers in which you can enjoy such a balance in your life. I’d recommend carpentry and joinery as a career to anyone.”

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