Brothers James and Shane David now work together as joiners after successfully completing the bespoke apprenticeship

Eleven aspiring joiners will this month take up their places on the bespoke CR Smith apprenticeship scheme that has been carefully developed by CR Smith and Fife College to meet the skills required by the home improvement business.

As well as developing the quality of workmanship needed for installing the CR Smith Lorimer range of windows, doors and living spaces, the new apprentices will hopefully represent the brand for years to come.

Unlike traditional apprenticeships, these apprentice joiners attend classes in the evenings, which are delivered by Fife College. This gives them more quality time on the job, learning from experienced tradespeople and gaining the skills they need to become an integral part of the workforce.

The unique CR Smith apprenticeship programme, which is aligned to City & Guilds accreditation, represents an investment of more than £100,000 over the past three years by the firm. A workshop has been specifically built for the apprentices and has all the facilities required to carry out the training modules, which are tailored to meet the needs of the company.

The new recruits are the second intake of apprentices onto this programme - the first class of ten have completed their current studies and are working as joiners.

Ian Macfarlane, Managing Director at CR Smith, has been the driving force behind the apprenticeship programme.

He said: “Investment in our people is essential and creating our own customised apprenticeship programme, as well as addressing a potential skill shortage, demonstrates our ongoing commitment to grow the business through young people.

“The delivery of many existing apprenticeship programmes was not entirely practical for our business, therefore we spent time with Fife College creating a more sustainable programme that works for us. It covers all the essential joinery skills and also includes the additional craftsmanship we need for our luxury hardwood internal finishes. The course also puts a lot of emphasis on developing the apprentices with a wider range of skills that we hope will give them a great start to their career.”

Ian also praised the flexibility that Fife College had in supporting and developing the course. 

He commented: “We have forged an excellent partnership with Fife College, in particular Frazer Walker, Carpentry and Joinery Tutor, who is fantastically dedicated and a great inspiration to our apprentices.”

Jan Thomson, Director of Business Development at Fife College, agrees that the CR Smith apprenticeship programme represents a hugely successful partnership.

She said: “It has been extremely rewarding working with CR Smith to create their bespoke apprenticeship programme and as a college we welcome the opportunity to work with local businesses in this way.

“The CR Smith programme is a model that includes traditional joinery alongside various other vital skills. It is officially certified, which is very important to those taking part.

“We found the first group of apprentices to be incredibly enthusiastic. The programme was quite demanding at times, so it is a huge credit to them that they committed to enhance their skills and knowledge in this way.”

James and Shane David (22 and 23yrs) have successfully completed the CR Smith apprenticeship and the two brothers from Dunfermline, now fully qualified, are working together as a squad.

According to the pair, it required a lot of commitment, but was “definitely worth it in the end”.

Both James and Shane have families and one of their main motivations for doing the apprenticeship was to provide for them. As James said, “this was to better ourselves so that we could do better for them”.

According to Shane, the real benefit of the apprenticeship was being on site each day and “the reward of seeing a job through from start to finish. It was invaluable experience as I got to learn from experienced joiners”.

James added: “Frazer, the tutor from Fife College, spent a lot of time teaching us new techniques and refining our skillsets and it was good to do more than just window installations. We hung doors, built roofs, fitted kitchens and spent a lot of time on internal finishes.”

Ian Macfarlane is full of praise for James and Shane. He added: “The manner in which both James and Shane approached the three year apprenticeship is a credit to them and it is fantastic to see their development. They and the other apprentice graduates should be immensely proud of what they achieved; they’ve set a brilliant example to our next class of apprentices.”

Find out more about Apprenticeships at Fife College.