Somerset's Westwind Oak is championing the importance of apprenticeships in business, as one of their directors, Sam Waring, started out as a 17-year-old apprentice.

This celebration follows a worrying report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) showing a 49% drop in apprenticeship starts in small and medium UK businesses between 2017 and 2021.

Fresh from school in 2009, Waring began his career journey at the oak frame building company, mastering his craft under experienced colleagues.

He started humbly, producing oak dowels and gradually learning the fundamentals of the trade.

His work ethic and dedication resulted in his progressive roles through the company and ultimately, being made Westwind Oak director in 2018.

Somerset County Gazette: Sam started off at Westwind Oak as an apprentice at the age of 17

Waring, who has played an integral role in the training of new apprentices, shared his experiences.

Mr. Waring said: "It’s been challenging but really rewarding trying to shape the company’s vision and adapt to changes in the economy and the construction industry.

"And for anyone thinking about doing an apprenticeship no matter what age you are, I’d say it’s a great way to allow you to learn on the job, build links and to develop the necessary skills and experience needed to drive your career successfully into the future."

Westwind Oak is certainly no stranger to the value of apprentices, with apprenticeships playing a vital part in the steady growth of the company.

The Chairman of Westwind Oak, Rupert Newman, speaks highly of their impact.

Mr. Newman explained: "Apprenticeships form a very important part of what makes Westwind Oak successful today.

"To train to become a master craftsperson takes many years and becoming an apprentice is the start of that journey.

"Sam started his journey in 2009 as a teenager and nine years later has risen through the company to become a director.

"If there is ever any evidence needed of the value of becoming an apprentice, then surely that is it."

Westwind Oak, which is set to feature at the South West Homebuilding & Renovating Show from November 18-19, is passionate about sharing their success story and the value of apprenticeships.

The event will be a perfect opportunity for future apprentices to interact with the company and gain insightful first-hand experience in homebuilding.