In the carpentry factory our apprentices build their future

In the carpentry factory our apprentices build their future

Marchel used to be a personal trainer, but he changed direction. Meanwhile, Rody was already an all-round carpenter, but he was looking for a specialisation. Both ended up with our colleague and mentor Peter, who teaches them the tricks of the trade in the Ballast Nedam Materieel carpentry factory.

At this Ballast Nedam location, the Pythagorean theorem is perhaps the one that matters most. In the carpentry factory in Almere, a small team is working on the concrete carpentry for the A24 Blankenburg connection and the Prinses Amaliahaven, among other projects. Apprentices Marchel and Rody do not just walk around the factory. The daily transfer of knowledge keeps the factory running. Even when, for instance, mentor Peter retires in three years' time. Until then, he is passing on the trade to the younger generation. "This work is a craft," says Peter. "People often don't realise that our work is really done by hand. I try to pass that on to the young people as well. Anyone can screw. But it's about the way you do it. That's why I let them toil when they're working independently. I let them make mistakes and repair them. They learn a whole lot from that."
Peter knows the carpentry factory like the back of his hand. He has been working here for more than 25 years on the workpieces that leave the factory. "You used to learn the trade from your parents. That's how it went for me too: my father was a renovation carpenter and as an eight-year-old boy I was already going with him. After that, I trained as an all-round carpenter. I now only have to read drawings briefly to discover any errors. And I now pass on that expertise to my apprentices."

Training to become a concrete carpenter

Marchel and Rody are taking a BBL course to become all-round concrete carpenters and they attend their training course four days a month. There, they learn how to make drawings, read drawings, make calculations and apply relevant environmental legislation to their work. The other days of the week, they work under the supervision of their mentor Peter in Ballast Nedam's carpentry factory. "In the past year I have already learned a lot," says Marchel. "The pieces we make in this factory have to be exactly as shown on the drawing. That is why we work very precisely and it comes down to the millimetre. I surprised myself when I found out that this precision suits me quite well. But I still want to grow in the area of drawing and reading. That's what it comes down to in the end. Meanwhile, his mentor climbs a staircase and takes a drawing from a cupboard on the wall. "That's why you have to practise a lot," says Peter. "Come and have a look at this one. Let's see if you recognise everything."

Education at Ballast Nedam

Two right hands and plenty of enthusiasm are essential ingredients for securing an apprenticeship with Ballast Nedam. Every year, an eager group of apprentices start working at Ballast Nedam. They are trained as, for example, Machinists, Drill Supervisors, Pile-drivers or Carpenters.

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Rody acknowledges Marchel's learning points as well: "I want my work to look clean", he says. "By now I have been here for five years and I work independently. But there is still so much to learn. I want to know everything. And the more I learn, the more ambitious I become. It feels a bit silly to say, but I really fell in love with my job in this carpentry factory."

'How could this have been made?'

Before Rody started working in the carpentry factory, he did not know the concept of 'concrete carpentry' and when he drove under a bridge, he did not notice the pillars or other elements of the construction. But that has changed now. "I now routinely ask myself: how would this have been made? The pieces we make are later fully incorporated into the whole. But I now know how much work is hidden there. For example, I made the walls for the A9 Gaasperdammertunnel. They are 13 by 5 metres, or sometimes even bigger. You can imagine that they involved a lot of screws and clamps. They were transported by night from our factory in Almere to Amsterdam. That makes me really proud."

Tip: Here you can find all the internships and apprenticeships at Ballast Nedam

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