Meet Bernie Stringer who originally studied a degree in Sport Science but ended up working as a carpenter in sunny Cornwall.
I’ve been working in the Construction industry for 6 years. Im now 28 years old and am a fully qualified Carpenter living and working in Cornwall as a sole trader/sub contractor. I’m happy with my choice of career and think I’m in the perfect place to do it.
I never thought I’d wind up working in Construction, rather I fell into it trying to save money to pay for a trip to Oz. I graduated from Plymouth Uni in 2013 but couldn’t find work in Sports Science. My close mate who had recently started a Roofing Company in Dorset said I could join his team as a labourer. I Gladly took up the offer and got straight into work. I managed to save enough to get me out to Oz. I continued roofing on domestic and commercial jobs out there, which was brutal in the Australian heat, however it took me to some pretty amazing places and payed really well.
I am a passionate surfer and so Cornwall was the obvious choice when I came back from Oz. I picked up work with local building firms in Newquay doing general building. Work was easy to find just online and through word of mouth, it seems there’s never any shortage of work down here!
I worked on everything, Asbestos removal, ground works, bricklaying, carpentry, roofing, plastering etc. I also started doing some of my own jobs for friends such as flooring, roof windows, fencing and landscaping. I became self-employed and got the necessary insurances.
Carpentry has always interested me the most. It requires different skills to other trades and it involves the use of lots of different tools and equipment. I am gradually building up my personal equipment. I tried to steer all my jobs in the direction of carpentry and I decided to get qualified. I eventually found an ‘On-site assessment’ (OSAT) stream of NVQ level 2 from Camborne College. This requires quite a bit of paperwork and an assessor from the college who visits site to assess your work. The course is aimed at skilled workers looking to fast track a qualification. You submit records of your work and eventually fulfil the criteria. My finished portfolio has recently been submitted and passed, Im now qualified. It took me about 12 months to complete because my jobs did not always include the requirements for a particular course module – staircases for example. It can be been done more quickly.
I am currently working on new builds in Camborne on a housing development. The work involves carcassing, first fix and second fix carpentry. It is pretty hard and fast work, however the job is interesting and enjoyable and I get on well with most of the crew there.
I’ve found there’s a good vibe in construction down here in Cornwall. It feels more ‘laid back’ on sites. This makes work a lot more enjoyable. I’d imagine it would be a lot more austere in other counties… I’ve met some really good people and life long friends a long the way, and most importantly have had the flexibility to go surfing when the waves are up!