2021 UK Apprenticeship Week
“Build the future: Train, Retain, Achieve”. This is the theme of the 2021 UK Apprenticeship Week, which got to the 14th edition this year. We sincerely support the young generations, as we believe they will build the world a better place.
3 hard-working plumbing apprentices shared with us their apprenticeship experience: it is intense and challenging, but extremely rewarding. Interested in their stories? Put your glasses on, grab yourself a coffee and let’s dive into the Plumbing "Apprenticeverse”.
- Tell us a couple of words about you and your activity so far.
Mell: Mell Atkinson, I am a commercial and domestic heating engineer who also does oil.
Carl: My name is Carl, I’m 39 and I am currently studying C&G Nvq Level 2 & 3 Plumbing & Heating working on new build sites.
Paul: Paul Stanley, I only began my apprenticeship in October, aged 42. After 15 years serving as a Police officer, I decided to have a change of career, I have already learnt a lot of new skills as I am completely new to any trades.
- How did you decide to start an apprenticeship in plumbing? How long ago?
Mell: I decided to do plumbing because when I was younger, I saw my brother enter the plumbing trade and I have always looked up to him. He made me want to try and I’ve never looked back since!
Carl: The short version is that I fell into the trade after being given an opportunity off the back of a pretty serious hand accident... Took it quite quickly and luckily was offered an apprenticeship and here I am today.
Paul: I knew that I was leaving the Police and didn't have a trade. I have a few friends who are in the plumbing trade and spoke to them to get advice before I committed to it, but so far it has been a fabulous decision.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Still in trades, or pursuing other career options?
Mell: In 5 years I still want to be thriving and learning new things every day in the trade.
Carl: In 5 years I see myself still 100% in trades, but I’d just like to be able to provide a healthy happy life for me and my pup Luna haha... Also, be able to have some freedom money-wise because as an apprentice money is really tight, as you can imagine, and the last few years haven’t been easy for most of us going through the same apprenticeship mill. Work-wise there are a few sectors I’m interested in for the future. For example, Commercial & Renewables. You never know what’s around the corner though, so I always like to keep it dynamic.
Paul: In 5 years I see myself as being a fully qualified plumbing and gas engineer, whether that is working for Plumb Purge who I am doing my training with, or trying to make a go of it self-employed.
- Describe your apprenticeship experience in 3 words.
Mell: Tough, challenging, rewarding.
Carl: Exhausting, rewarding, exciting.
Paul: Exciting, challenging, intense.
- What is the most important thing you learned during your apprenticeship?
Mell: The most important thing I learnt during my apprentice is to take my time and don’t rush. Always take time to check your work as many times as you need!
Carl: So far, to always be proactive, “Thinking ahead gets you ahead” and always try and be one step ahead of your plumber for what he/she needs on the job at hand... Attention to detail counts for a lot.
Paul: So far, I am 4 months into my apprenticeship. In this time, I had 2 weeks off over Christmas and 2 weeks due to Covid, so I am only 3 months in really. But I feel my boss’s confidence has already grown in my ability and he is giving me more responsibility, which is great.
- Tell us a couple of details about your proudest moment since you are in trades.
Mell: My proudest moment in trades is being on a job where they don’t expect me to do a job as well as a ‘man’ and I prove them wrong!
Carl: Being given the responsibility to first fix plots myself was a proud, but a scary moment. For me, that has been the most rewarding moment to date.
Paul: I am still new to this and don't feel as yet I have achieved a huge deal, however being left alone already by the boss because he has confidence in me is a real boost.
- To you, which are the most important things to take into consideration when choosing the tools you work with? Do the RIDGID tools have these characteristics?
Mell: RIDGID tools for sure have the characteristics I look for. Spend decent money, look after your tools and your tools will look after you!
Carl: If I’m honest, as an apprentice and a mature one, is that I haven’t had the luxury of living at home with parents so the tools I’ve used have been ones either I’ve luckily won or have been saved for. A RIDGID tool would, of course, be amazing to add to my tooling, but I personally couldn’t warrant the cost just yet, while supporting myself. I can dream though haha!
Paul: A great design, ease of use and robust tools to last every day is vital in the plumbing role. I am yet to use RIDGID tools, but I have friends who have them and they're very complimentary about them and I am excited to get using them.
- Which is your advice/ message for a person who thinks about choosing an apprenticeship in trades?
Mell: Just do it. It’s hard work but you won’t regret it! If you like getting your hands dirty and you’re a practical person, you’ll love it!
Carl: I took the chance at the age of 36/37, if I can do it with everything I went through and trusting the fact that the leap I was taking would pay off... you can too! This will be the best decision you’d ever make, your future self will be happy ;)
Paul: I was unhappy in my last job, I would say to people you're never too old to give the trades a try. Today I am learning a lot and working with some great and very skilled people. Give it a try and you may also find a new lease of life as I have.