Brett Burnell is a stonemasonry apprentice studying at Bath College and working at St Fagans in Wales – an open-air museum in Cardiff celebrating Welsh history and culture.
Bath College is one of the few colleges offering a qualification in stonemasonry and the course attracts apprentices from Wales and the South West.
What made you decide to sign up as an apprentice?
I spotted the advert for an apprenticeship while scanning through jobs on the internet. I have wanted to become a stonemason for many years, and worked at St Fagans as a labourer, but never had the opportunity until now.
What do you do in a normal week as an apprentice?
Three days a week I’m working onsite at the museum on a variety of projects. This includes building rubble lime walling, recreating a Celtic village, and carving and fixing stonework. I’ve worked on many listed buildings.
Two days a week, I attend Bath College where I improve my banker (construction) skills and precision while learning the theory behind stonemasonry.
What responsibilities do you have at St Fagan’s?
I work with a team, including one other apprentice stonemason and three masons who have been in the trade all their life and help and guide us.
The other apprentice is on the same course and level as me, which helps as we’re both experiencing the same thing and can work together. My responsibilities are to work safely as part of the team onsite to perform to Bath College’s high standards.
What’s the best thing about being an apprentice?
As a 37-year-old man with family and bills to pay, going back to college seemed almost impossible. The apprenticeship gave me the opportunity to keep earning and gain the qualifications I need to further my career and better myself. I would say go for it, it’s hard work but it’s worth it.
Has being an apprentice changed life for the better?
Definitely. I have gained more knowledge in the past two years on this course at Bath College than I have working onsite as a labourer for ten years. It gives me a massive sense of pride being able to see what I’m capable of achieving.
What’s your plan for the future?
I hope to complete my Level 3 NVQ and diploma in stonemasonry. When I’m qualified I’d like to stay working at St Fagans. It’s a beautiful place to work and I like knowing that what I’ve produced will be there long after I am.
Interested in an apprenticeship? Let us know!
What are the next steps to becoming an apprentice?
Please complete the form below giving details of the apprenticeship you want to take and the employer who has offered you a placement.