Joinery skills honed at the former Falkirk College of Technology has led Paul Harris to help build careers for Forth Valley College Joinery Modern Apprentices.
Paul (41) from Denny, has come a long way since starting his CITB Joinery Apprenticeship in 1994 aged 16. He spent four years learning his trade with his father Henry Harris’ joinery business, but when he was injured and had to give up work, Paul completed his time with the Gateway Shopfitters firm from Bridge of Allan.
A short stint with a firm called Manpower led to Paul setting up Alpa Joiners with his cousin Alan Harris and they ran a successful business for 11 years. Paul set up his own company 11 years ago and is delighted to work closely with Forth Valley College to help train his Modern Apprentices. We asked Paul about his journey.
How much did college benefit you?
“I wasn’t very good at school and I didn’t have many qualifications, but I did know one thing and that was that I wanted to be a joiner. I absolutely loved college and the lecturers took me under their wing and I focused on learning as much as I could. I even represented the college in competition, which was great.
“I now have six staff working for me and 10 sub-contractors and also have three MAs – one who has just completed his apprenticeship.”
What is your advice for people thinking about doing an MA or for employers looking to take one on?
“I think anyone wanting a career in joinery should do an apprenticeship as it properly sets them on the straight and narrow and gives employers a wee bit of security. It may cost the employer a wee bit of money, but it helps instill the apprentice with respect for their employers and makes them a better employee.
“I have three MAs who go to FVC and they are all good workers who adhere to our high standards here at Paul Harris Joiners. We educate them to maintain themselves and keep tidy, so no one can judge them. If the apprentice commits to the job and to the company and always learn and listen, they will reap the benefits and I will look after them.”
How much do you like working with Forth Valley College through the MA programme?
“The college has been good to me and looked after me as a young man learning my trade and I like to be involved with the college through the MA programme. It’s great that the college is trying to bring new young people into the industry that are willing to work hard, as that really takes the pressure off employers such as me.”