National Apprenticeship Week 2017 : Dean Saunt - Parker Knoll
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National Apprenticeship Week 2017 : Dean Saunt

National Apprenticeship Week 2017 : Dean Saunt

This week celebrates the 10th Annual National Apprenticeship Week, bringing together employers and apprentices from all over England to celebrate the success of apprentice schemes over the last 10 years.

At Parker Knoll, we are very proud of our apprenticeship scheme, and the incredible work of the apprentices since we began the programme. For this week’s blog post, we sat down with Dean Saunt, our Level 3 apprentice, and explored how working for Parker Knoll has positively impacted his career prospects and skills in a highly skilled trade as a furniture craftsmen.

What made you want to apply to become a Parker Knoll apprentice?

I am from Long Eaton, which is considered by many to be the ‘heart of upholstery’. I had a few friends that were working as upholsterers at the time, and I had heard about the Parker Knoll apprenticeship scheme. I was already aware that Parker Knoll was a reputable brand, so when I saw the apprenticeship I applied right away. Initially I just wanted to learn a trade, but upholstery is something different, and I can see the opportunities for progression.

You’ve been on your apprenticeship for almost 3 years now, and you’re a Level 3 Development Upholstery Apprentice, what tasks have you had to complete to reach this level?

I completed my Level 2 whist I was on the factory floor making and repairing Parker Knoll furniture. I had to show that I was competent at cutting, sewing, and was able to upholster a piece of furniture without any assistance – this was my final assessment at college before I received the offer of continuing my course onto Level 3 in the Development department which was an incredible opportunity.

What do you like most about working at Parker Knoll?

I would certainly say the people that I work with. I’ve been in development for nearly 18 months, and everyone has been so welcoming and made me feel right at home. They are incredibly talented and are always willing to set aside their own time to aid me in my learning.

What is your favourite task to complete on a daily basis?

No two days are the same, but I am normally creating and developing a few patterns for our brand-new sofa ranges, cutting out frames ready to upholster, or generally assisting and gaining knowledge from experienced upholsterers who have been in the industry for many years.

I most enjoy engineering a pattern for a new design, and then testing it to see if it’s correct. It can be quite challenging at times, but you get a great sense of accomplishment when you get it right.

With this in mind, what are you currently working on?

I am currently helping out on the new evolution range. We make each piece from scratch and work with the design team to challenge and improve our process, ensuring the product looks great and offers the ultimate in comfort.

This is one of my favourite things about working in Development – being part of this creative process.

You won Apprentice of the Year in June 2015 which is a fabulous achievement! How has that impacted your development as an upholsterer?

I was presented with this award by Webs Furniture Training and since then my confidence grew significantly. A couple of months later, I was asked if I would like to continue my apprenticeship to Level 3 as a Development Upholsterer. I believe it was as a result of my continued hard work and commitment, both at Parker Knoll and Webs.

What is your primary goal after your apprenticeship?

My primary goal after I have completed my apprenticeship is to establish a permanent role within Development, and continue to improve on my skills to ensure quality in my work, and push myself to become the best.

When you’re not working hard on your apprenticeship, what would we find you doing?

Out of work I like to spend time with friends – socialising and exploring different places. I also like spending a bit of time on my car. The mechanical/engineering elements really interest me. And of course, treating my girlfriend!

What is your advice to anyone who may be considering an apprenticeship?

I would say if you are looking to gain a qualification, yet you don’t necessarily want to spend all day in a classroom, then you would definitely benefit from embarking on an apprenticeship. It does take a lot of hard work, and it is very hands-on, but it’s a great way to get your foot in the door in an industry of your choosing. You can also earn some money whilst gaining invaluable skills, so it’s a win-win!

To find out more about our apprenticeship scheme here at Parker Knoll, keep an eye on the Careers page on our website, or visit to find your ideal apprenticeship, and take the first step in furthering your career!

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