By Simon Taylor
For over three decades, we have run an apprenticeship scheme for local teenagers to become woodworkers and cabinetmakers. I am and have always been keen to support young people who want to enter the furniture industry to become the master cabinetmakers of the future. I think a skills-based apprenticeship scheme is the right way to give them the knowledge and experience they need to succeed.
In 2021, Simon Taylor Furniture joined forces with Rycotewood in Oxford, the leading furniture and craft college, where I trained as a master cabinetmaker in the 1980’s. Rycotewood offers a Level 2 Furniture Manufacturer Apprenticeship; a fully developed programme specifically designed for bespoke furniture manufacturers. The course includes intensive one-week training blocks at the college, where the apprentice engages in carefully planned skills development projects. The rest of the time is spent on professional training in cabinetmaking at our cabinet workshop in Bierton, Buckinghamshire.
Whilst being continually assessed at the college, the training the apprentice receives in our workshop includes learning to use all hand tools and machinery using a shadow board, learning woodworking skills and making handcrafted furniture, understanding safety procedures both at work and on-site, and learning the business disciplines required to be part of a team. In addition to providing a portfolio of work-based evidence, the apprentice must provide two online assessments, one about the industry in which they are working and the second on the important subject of Health & Safety.
In October 2021, Lorenzo dell’ Aquila joined the team on a Level 2 Furniture Manufacturer Apprenticeship scheme and in October 2022, Samuel Brandon joined us on the same course.
This image of Simon Taylor (pictured centre) with the Rycotewood Team was taken at Decorex 2022.