Why pursue a plumbing apprenticeship? Five men wearing hi vis vests and blue safety helmets smile and joke while looking at the camera

Why should you become a plumbing apprentice?

An apprenticeship can take you in all sorts of interesting directions. Find out what a Plumbing Apprentice has to say about his learning journey.

24 year-old Jone Da Cruz is now employed by Taylor Wimpey as an Assistant Site Manager. He trained as an apprentice plumber and now has a Higher National Certificate in Construction Management, which he gained at Greenwich University.

Here’s what he had to say about his experiences as an apprentice so far.

Why did you choose the construction industry?

When I left college, I didn’t know what to do next after studying art and design.

One day a gas engineer came to my house to fix the boiler. I’d always enjoyed practical tasks and I asked him lots of questions about his job and it sounded interesting, so I enrolled on an NVQ Level 2 plumbing course but struggled to find a job.

Apprenticeships organisation K10 found me an apprenticeship which enabled me to do a Maths and English course alongside my training.

After I finished the plumbing course, I decided that I wanted to go to university, so left plumbing behind and found my current role – again, through K10.  

Why did you choose this apprenticeship?

I like to talk to people on-site and the careers that most appealed to me were Quantity Surveying and Site Management. I didn’t think I’d like the full-time office role that came with QS career, so I decided on the Site Management course for a bit of variety.

Part of my role at Taylor Wimpey is working with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) as an ambassador, so I go around speaking to London school kids to raise the profile of the construction industry and tell them about the variety of roles and career routes there are.

Can you tell us about some of the practical skills/techniques you're learning?

I started my plumbing course with no experience and had to learn all the basics from scratch.

Some of the early tasks were primarily physical, like setting up new connections and installing boilers in people’s homes. But site management is all about understanding the construction process and creating a schedule for the subcontractors so that the project runs on time.

Can you tell us about some of the social skills that you're learning?

My experience has given me the confidence to speak to lots of people, including subcontractors who are much older and have many more years of experience. This has been challenging at times but has also been great. It’s definitely helped me with my ambassador role too – I probably never would have been able to do anything like that otherwise.

I’ve even got to meet Prince Charles as part of my role - something I never thought someone from my background would get to do. I was asked to give a speech which was quite daunting, but I built up the confidence… only for the event to run behind schedule, so it didn’t happen! But I did get to chat to him, which was very surreal.

What do you hope to do once you finish your apprenticeship?

I’m halfway through my two-year course and I think I’ll study for a degree after that. The project I’m working on with Taylor Wimpey is a four-year housing development near Westfield Stratford, so I hope to stay for the duration. 

Can you tell us something funny that's happened to you whilst you were at work?

During my plumbing apprenticeship there was a gas leak on the site where we were working and for a whole week we had plumbers (who were getting paid around £150 per day!) looking for the source. I finally volunteered to have a look and I found it within 2 hours! 

Things like that make you feel good because sometimes you don’t want to speak up because you’re much younger.

Why would you recommend an apprenticeship to a school leaver or someone who is considering a career/education change?

The way I see it, when we’re young we’re not really sure what we want to do after years of school and college, and university can be a challenging choice when you haven’t got enough practical work experience to have confidence in the career in which you’re making a large financial investment.

An apprenticeship gives you experience, a qualification, and money so you come out winning.

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Last Updated: 05 Aug 2016