Being profoundly deaf hasn’t stopped a teenager from Linlithgow, West Lothian, securing his dream job in construction.

Fraser Gunn, 19, who has a cochlear implant, is working as an apprentice joiner with national housing developer and regeneration specialist Lovell. His traineeship is proving so successful that the teenager is encouraging other deaf young people to consider an apprenticeship in the industry, appearing in a video for the National Deaf Children’s Society about his experience of life on site.

Fraser Gunn, 19, who is profoundly deaf, is working as an apprentice joiner with national housing developer and regeneration specialist Lovell

Fraser’s apprenticeship, arranged through West Lothian Council, will enable him to gain the on-site work experience he needs to complete his four-year apprenticeship in Advanced Craft and Carpentry.

He is currently part of the Lovell team building 150 new council homes at Little Boghead, near Whiteside in Bathgate through West Lothian Council’s new-build housing programme.

Long-held ambition

“I’ve always wanted to be a joiner since I was little,” says Fraser. “When I’m at work, Lovell makes the other people on site aware of my deafness and I tell them how to communicate with me – that might be telling them how to give me a simple sign or telling them to speak clearly and not to use the hammer while they’re talking to me.”


One of the biggest hurdles for Fraser in entering the world of work was managing without the one-to-one support from a qualified Teacher of the Deaf, which helped him when he was in full time-education.  “It wasn’t easy trying to cope by myself,” he admits. “But it’s given me a chance to prove I can be independent without having that support with me all the time.”

Lovell site manager Gavin Gray says: “I was a bit worried about how Fraser would get on as communication is key on site, especially for safety reasons, however with the right support Fraser’s deafness has not been a barrier at all.

“The team has been very accommodating in providing Fraser with extra support when needed – they ensure that the people working with him know he is deaf and that they need to get his attention and make sure he is looking when they are talking to him, as he may not hear if there is a lot of ambient noise.

“Fraser is site-savvy and is confident with the tasks that he is given, he has a get-up-and-go attitude, he’s self-driven and in terms of his apprenticeship, he’s developing great skills.”

Fraser is believed to be one of only a very small number of deaf young people working in construction. From his perspective, an apprenticeship has given him the opportunity to learn new skills and get paid as he trains, as well as the chance to go to college and meet new people. His advice to other deaf teenagers is simple: “Be brave and give it a go.”

Heather Gray, Director, Scotland at the National Deaf Children’s Society says: “It is fantastic Fraser has been so successful in his apprenticeship with Lovell. With the right support, deaf young people can achieve the same as their hearing peers, which is demonstrated here.”

“We know from recent research that many deaf young people face barriers when moving on from school, and many are less likely to enter higher education or employment. That’s why supportive and deaf-aware employers like Lovell are vital, and can make a significant difference to a deaf young person’s life. This gives them the opportunity they deserve to contribute their skills and strengths in the workplace and reach their full potential as an employee.”

Fraser recently had the honour of being a batonbearer in the Queen’s Baton Relay in his home town of Linlithgow, as part of the countdown to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. He was nominated as a result of his volunteer work with the National Deaf Children’s Society

Hear Fraser talking about his apprenticeship and watch him at work here on the National Deaf Children’s Society’s YouTube channel.

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