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Fraser's apprenticeship

Deaf teen, Fraser, talks about his joinery apprenticeship

Fraser is 19, profoundly deaf and an apprentice joiner. He tells us how he communicates with his colleagues on site. 

Fraser, 19, who is profoundly deaf, is currently in his second year of a four year construction apprenticeship.

Tell us about your deafness

I'm profoundly deaf and use a cochlear implant. As I have been deaf since birth and implanted since age two, I don't know any differently.

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

I decided to become a construction apprentice because I enjoyed woodwork at school, and working with my hands. Unlike a full-time college course, you learn while you’re on the job, so when I finish I will have gained a trade.

Were there many apprenticeships available?

There weren’t many available. I applied to our local council (West Lothian) who had advertised for apprentices in construction. I was asked to sit an aptitude test which I passed and then I went along for a practical assessment which I also got through. The final hurdle was an interview and unfortunately I did not get offered a position. I was asked if they could pass my name to Lovell as they were looking to recruit apprentices. Two months later Lovell contacted me and I went for an interview for an apprentice joiner and I was offered a four year apprenticeship.

Are your colleagues deaf aware?

Most of my colleagues had never spoken to a deaf person before. I explained how to communicate with me and what to do to alert me to hazards on site. The site I work on is very noisy, which means I can’t hear if someone shouts at me from a distance. There are also health and safety issues to be aware of, such as heavy machinery moving around the site. But the drivers know to beep their horn if I am in the way.

Do you have any communication support for your apprenticeship?

I don’t have communication support for my apprenticeship, which at the beginning was difficult, as my whole life up to that point I had had the benefit of a Teacher of the Deaf each day. I am managing – it’s not perfect and sometimes it can be tricky.*

Do you have any advice for other deaf young people considering an apprenticeship?

I've learned loads in my apprenticeship, and I’d advise anyone to give it a go. It was a bit daunting starting it after all the support I received at school, but overall it's been really worthwhile.

*Fraser did not organise communication support, however, it can be requested. See Apprenticeships for more information.