When Allan Lamb was laid off at the end of last year, his career was put on hold, but thanks to the apprenticeship matching service he has found a new job

Allan Lamb, 21, is an apprentice carpentry and bench joiner, currently working for Smiths SD building maintenance and cleaning contractor, based in Runcorn, in Cheshire. A former displaced apprentice, Allan was laid off by his previous employer around Christmas time last year, but through the ConstructionSkills apprenticeship matching service (AMS) Allan was matched with a new employer. His appointment at Smiths SD has meant he was able to complete the second year of his programme. He starts his final year in September.

Joinery wasn't something that I ever chose. My grades at school weren't great and I didn't do too well in Sixth Form college. Afterwards, I knew that a trade would be good for me - something that I could fall back on - something useful to have and do, because my apprenticeship would be a nationally-recognised qualification that I could take with me anywhere. I was introduced to joinery by my dad's friend, I just gave it a go and, luckily, really liked it, and have stuck with it for almost three years now. Although, at the time I didn't feel like I had another way to go, doing an apprenticeship suits me because I like the combination of college and practical experience.

I have been with Smiths SD for almost two months now. Most of the time I do void maintenance work, this involves clearing out abandoned properties then working to repair everything, and bringing it up to standard by carrying out loads of repairs.

When I was laid off by my previous employer, I was out of work for almost six months. The first few months were ok, but then I got very bored and ran out of money. I was looking, but there weren't any jobs around.

Christmas last year was the worst time. I was laid off over the holidays when Wirral Metropolitan College was closed so I had all that time to worry if I could even finish the course. I eventually found out that I could when it re-opened in the New Year. But, at the time, I didn't know if I'd just wasted a year of my life.

Even after I'd been laid off, I continued going every week and I always asked my tutors if they knew of any suitable jobs for me.

Money was becoming real tight so I needed to look for any job to tide me over. I'd actually had another interview that same morning for a bar job. I knew I'd rather do joinery, though, because I really wanted to finish my course. Being laid off set me back a few months; if I'd been able to carry on, I would actually be finishing this year - but now, because of what happened, I'll qualify next year. It got to me at times, but I'm just happy that things have worked out the way they have.

Then, two months ago, ConstructionSkills got in touch, saying that Smiths SD were interested in hiring an apprentice joiner through the AMS, and that it had recommended me for the job. I got in touch and got an interview. I was so happy when I found out that Smiths wanted me to start the next week.

The best part of my job is getting to see the finished product that you have had a hand in creating. I like knowing how everything is put together.

I definitely have first-hand experience of the downturn because it put me out of work, but I am now in a job that I really enjoy, and I'm really busy; a completely different situation from when I was at home, bored, six months ago.