Screwfix Trade Apprentice Profiles – Alex Avis

Alex Avis, a carpenter and joiner from Nottingham is the most recent Screwfix Trade Apprentice Champion, taking home the trophy in 2022.

After leaving school, Alex took the traditional University route and studied History before taking on a marketing role. However, at 26 years old Alex went back to college as a mature student after discovering his passion for woodwork during the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. He says: “During lockdown I started doing small projects around the house and really enjoyed it. Through a family friend I then secured work with an independent building firm, where I tried my hand at a bit of everything. I really loved the carpentry aspect of it and decided I wanted to specialise in that area, so I applied for an apprenticeship.”

He adds: “It was different going back to a classroom after already doing a form of Higher Education, but I loved learning from different people. Not only from those on-site but also from my tutors, who really helped set me up with all the fundamental carpentry skills.”

Alex found starting again a challenge but quickly realised that being able to create solutions for customers out of raw materials was his true calling, saying: “I love being able to see a finished product that I can put my name to. When I worked in an office, I found I was often participating in work that was ongoing, without a clear end point or goal.”

Alex discovered Screwfix Trade Apprentice during a regular shopping trip at Screwfix, saying: “Initially I was drawn by the prize bundle as I knew it would really help me to build my skills. I also felt my story would resonate with other people in a similar situation, and really wanted to share my experience to reassure others that it’s never too late to change your career and do something completely different.”

Crowned Screwfix Trade Apprentice 2022 during a virtual final, Alex has invested some of his prize money into new equipment to help him with his studies and build his name in the trade, including a new laptop and video equipment to film himself at work which he shares on social media. He said: “Winning Screwfix Trade Apprentice has been my biggest career highlight so far. I’ve never done anything like it before, we got to learn so much during the final, from business building, social media, and sustainability. It was so much more than a competition; it was a learning experience too.”

Alex has continued his mantra of learning as much as he can from his peers, saying: “I’ve still got lots to learn, and I really want to just absorb as much knowledge as I can. I’m currently looking for courses to improve my skills in some of the more specialist sides of joinery, such as furniture making.”

“Long-term I would love to travel before setting-up my own business. I would definitely hire an apprentice too, particularly someone like me who has joined the trade later in life. I think there’s a lot of benefit to hiring an older apprentice, as they have that life experience and have shown commitment by taking the risk to start over.”

Alex also thinks that more could be done to encourage those leaving school into apprenticeships as a viable route to higher education and employment, adding: “I went to university because it was what was expected of me. I think apprenticeships need to be shouted about more. If I’d known more about them then perhaps someone like me would have gone for it earlier.”

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