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.