Choosing a course sometimes feels like booking a holiday; you scroll through pages of course descriptions, read hundreds of reviews, shortlist your favourites and eventually book one. Yet unlike the teenage week in the sun you would rather forget, the wrong course can be a little more regretful. When it comes to plumbing, it’s safe to say us girls on the editorial desk are far from experienced in changing taps or installing heating. With this in mind, we decided to talk to someone who would be able to give wannabe plumbers some helpful advice when it comes to finding the right course. Enter Paul Hill, who has run the Trades Training website for the past six years and spends his days talking to professionals, tutors and students in the Trades industry sectors of Plumbing, Electrical, Gas Engineer, Welding and Renewables. We racked Paul’s brain and asked him about everything from qualifications to U bends, on our quest to bring you the top tips of what to look for on a plumbing course.
Plunge into a Trades Training course
First things first, what is Trades Training? Paul tells us more; ‘We offer individuals the opportunity to train from scratch or re-train within the ever expanding Trades industry sectors.’ No one wants to sign up to a course without talking employment, so Paul was on hand to reassure wannabe plumbers – ‘Within the industry, we’ve not only seen an increase in applicants wishing to become fully qualified plumbers, but an increased demand for skilled applicants across the whole of the UK. As the trades industry becomes more technically advanced, there is a legal requirement for individuals, whether they are new to plumbing or already working in the industry, to obtain the latest certificates to practise. From an introduction to plumbing to a City & Guilds Level 2, all levels are catered for at Trades Training.’ So the first thing to note when choosing a course is to ensure, whatever your level, that you are getting the latest qualifications employers are looking for.
Don’t flush your qualifications away
We all kind of knew it, but as mentioned above, when choosing a course, the qualification really is important. We ask Paul to tell us more about the plumbing qualifications out there. ‘We work with an approved National Training provider, who offers individuals a complete range or all the latest qualifications needed to practise legally. To become qualified within plumbing, you need to attend a recognised approved course within a training centre and pass the exam modules in both theory and practical. Individuals’ work will be assessed for skill and safety and a certain amount of home-study will also be expected.’ So whatever course you choose, expect some exams, homework and theory.
Not all fun and drains
Despite the comical ‘plumbing gone wrong’ photos we all love to laugh at, it really is a serious business. The most important lesson all new plumbers will learn is in regards to safety in the workplace, ‘not only for the individual but also for work colleagues’. Paul adds, ‘Plumbing and working as a plumber can offer such a variety of jobs on a day-to-day basis, one day you could be working on a building site, the next on private residential work. The hardest part of the role is being able to adapt to the work environment and achieving expected deadlines by completing the work on schedule. On the other hand, from speaking to qualified plumbers, the best bit of their job is the flexibility offered by either working as a sub-contractor or sole-trader. The work can be hard at times, but it’s rewarding to know there is an increased demand for technically skilled plumbers across the UK for years to come.’ Whatever course you end up choosing, rest assured, people will always need plumbers!
We ask Paul about how the plumbing industry is changing; ‘Skilled plumbers are expected to offer a bigger range of work than just working in the bathroom or kitchen. More new and refurbished older homes are having under floor heating installed, which is becoming a more common client request.’
Mario or Luigi?
There’s no doubt about it, plumbing is a popular choice for hundreds of students across the UK. But what are your options once you are qualified? ‘Qualified plumbers can either work as a salaried employee within a plumbing or trades specialist company or sub-contract as a sole-trader to a building construction company, working alongside other trades people. As well as setting up as a sole trader, there is also the option to set up as a limited VAT registered company and employ other skilled trades people.’
As we reach our final question we know it’s probably not the most intellectual, but we have been dying to ask it for the entire interview – what is the most unusual thing your qualified plumbers have found stuck in a U bend? Paul seems to share our sense of humour, replying, ‘Ahh well that would be telling, but we have heard of wedding rings, car and house keys successfully being recovered.’
Jane McGuire received her BA (English) from the University of Loughborough. A yoga enthusiast with a sweet tooth, in her spare time you will probably find Jane in the gym or online shopping.