Nine Twenty seeks school leavers to train for a well-paid role as a cooper in Scotland’s drink industry

Karen Stewart, a Director of Nine Twenty

THE engineering and manufacturing division of innovative Scottish recruitment specialist Nine Twenty is seeking between four and six school leavers to take their first steps on the career ladder to become a time-served cooper.

Coopers are tradespeople trained to make wooden casks, barrels, vats, buckets, tubs, troughs, and other similar containers from timber staves that are usually heated or steamed to make them pliable. 

The role of Cooperage Operator, paying £6.70 an hour and leading to an apprenticeship for suitable candidates, is being sought by Karen Stewart, a Director of Nine Twenty, on behalf of Uddingston-based, Oakwood Cooperage.

Founded in 2018, Oakwood is the first new Scottish cooperage business to emerge in the last twenty years and specialises in the sourcing, repair, and rejuvenation of oak casks.

Coopers play an important role in the drinks industry and are highly paid. At present, there are fewer than 250 time served coopers in Scotland and demand for their skills is high.

Karen said: “Although this is a rare and exciting opportunity, it will not be for everyone. The role is very manual and physically demanding, with lots of activities based outdoors as well as in the workshop. This must be something you want to pursue and are comfortable doing.

“Successful applicants will start in the business as an operator to allow them to understand fully the job and to decide if it is truly for them. If so, they will be given the opportunity to join the Oakwood Cooperage apprentice programme. Attitude, a willingness to learn and a great work ethic, is more important than qualifications.

“In return, successful applicants will be offered a good place to learn to become time served, and afterwards, the World of Work awaits. Fully qualified coopers can earn up to £65,000 a year and are secure in their careers, so this is a brilliant opportunity.”

Raymond Prosser, Manager of Oakwood Cooperage said: “Karen has supported me on various projects over the years. She has a passion for developing the future workforce and has the right connections to make things happen. Nine Twenty was a natural choice to assist us in setting up our apprenticeship programme.”

Journeymen coopers also traditionally made wooden implements, such as rakes and wooden-bladed shovels. In addition to wood, other materials, such as iron, are used in the manufacturing process. The trade is the origin of the surname Cooper.

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