1st March 2019
Maitiú Ó Fátharta, aged 30 from Castleford, decided to follow his heart and change career, knowing he had a flair for practical subjects and an interest in restoration crafts. Coming from Ireland, surrounded by dry stone walls and stone buildings when he was growing up, he wanted to take on a trade and stonemasonry really appealed.
(Photograph: Wakefield Council)
Having studied Sport & Exercise Science at university, Maitiú spent four years teaching Maths in a secondary school. Deep down he was unhappy in his work and knew he would prefer to work more with his hands - Stonemasonry was an obvious fit with his talents and interests.
In 2016 Maitiú started a full-time Level 2 Stonemasonry course at York College, learning the banker skills used in architectural stonemasonry. He then enrolled on a Stone Carving adult evening class, trying his hand at more detailed work requiring concentration and patience. During the course, Maitiú started an Advanced Apprenticeship with Stone Edge, a contractor specialising in historic building restoration and conservation. The company had taken over the restoration and conservation of Pontefract Castle from previous contractors and Maitiú felt a real connection with the work. Whilst working for Stone Edge Maitiú is studying Stonemasonry at Level 3 on his apprenticeship, gaining further knowledge and experience.
Maitiú says: “At school I was good at carpentry and metal work and now I enjoy working with stone. I can’t deny it was hard giving up a well-paid career to learn this new trade but it was the right thing for me. I think I have a natural aptitude for stonemasonry and in the future I look forward to keeping the heritage craft alive, working on interesting restoration projects. I would have found it close to impossible to get into a masonry job without the foundation of skills I developed at York College (especially coming from a non-construction profession), and York College is the only northern training provider for stonemasonry.”
(Photograph: Wakefiled Council)
Employer quote: Adam Hickey, Operations Director of Stone Edge, says: “Taking on apprentices in these highly-skilled traditional crafts is essential to our business – and vital to the future of our sector of the construction industry. We are absolutely delighted to play our part in helping to build Maitiú’s new career and the team at York College is always a pleasure to deal with. Maitiú has slotted straight in to become a key part of our project at Pontefract Castle. We very much hope and expect that he will be with us for many years to come.”
During National Apprenticeship Week and National Careers Week, York College is hosting it's first ever Employment Marketplace. This free event, at the College’s Sim Balk Lane campus, on Tuesday 5th March (between 3.00pm - 7.30pm) is open to local employers as well as students looking to take their next steps and to those looking for employment opportunities with local businesses in and around the city.