“Construction allows you to work all over the globe”
Jon, who was inspired to begin his apprenticeship after seeing Channel 4’s Grand Designs, has enjoyed a varied career since he became an apprentice in 2011.
Jon grew up in Swansea. He qualified as a stonemason in July 2014 via a three-year CITB apprenticeship which saw him work and train in Cardiff, Bristol and Bath. Once, at Oystermouth Castle in 2012, Jon had the opportunity to guide Princess Anne around a local castle restoration project he worked on.
Jon then moved to a stonemasonry company in Bristol, completing his training at the City of Bath college.
With a construction career, you can take your skills across the world. In 2017, Jon travelled to Vancouver, Canada, where he put his skills to the test.
“I spent three years developing my skills, not just as a stonemason but as a leader on many projects spanning British Columbia and sometimes beyond,” says Jon.
Like many people, Jon had to make big decisions at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He decided to return to his roots in Swansea and study as a mature student, on a construction management course, at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).
“I am excited to graduate in July and work as a graduate construction manager,” says Jon. “It is with a company which will help me develop the skills to become a confident project/construction manager in the years to come. I hope to keep my chisels sharp for the odd stonework project as well.”
Reflecting on his career, Jon says one of the toughest challenges he faces is working outside in winter.
“As a stonemason, I’d guess that 80% of the work has been outdoors,” says Jon. “This comes with its challenges, as rain and frost can negatively affect a workforce after some time.
“Another challenge is the commuting to projects. After two hours on the motorway, and an eight-hour day on the tools, the week can wear you down.”
Still, Jon finds his work fulfilling and enjoyable: “I like revisiting a project after a year, to admire the work carried out. I recently carved a large shield to commemorate the 200th anniversary of UWTSD. I designed, cut and carved the stone. This gave me great pleasure as it is likely to be displayed in my city for years.”
Jon‘s advice for those considering a career in construction?
“Please do your research. I recommend you complete a placement as this will help you understand what working on a construction site is like.”
A career in construction is challenging but extremely rewarding in the short and long term: “Construction offers life skills that you won’t find anywhere else. Gaining skills within the construction industry will allow you to work all over the globe.”