The pandemic has presented huge challenges to the economy, to education, and to the opportunities open to young people. As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, we caught up with two plumbing apprentices at London Square’s Neasden Lane development in Brent, to talk about their hopes and aspirations for the future.
Cameron Elliott, aged 21, is in his third year of a plumbing apprenticeship with RPM Plumbing & Heating.
I was working as a general labourer for a bricklaying contractor and a family friend asked if I had thought about applying for an apprenticeship, so I began contacting training providers and employers in my local area. I’ve always been interested in plumbing and heating so following the apprenticeship route has been a great foundation for a career in the industry.
This work gives me a great sense of involvement, but the most enjoyable aspect of my apprenticeship is being able to see a major building project completed. It definitely motivates me to push myself to be the best at my craft and to learn as much as possible from skilled and experienced people in my team. I'm also really excited about the possibility of training in new environmental technologies like solar thermal systems, biomass boilers and water recycling systems.
Before lockdown, I spent four days on site and attended college one day per week, which meant that I could really get stuck into my portfolio of work and focus on getting the technique spot on. During lockdown, college lectures moved online and lessons were delivered remotely so it took some time to adjust to a new way of learning. I really missed the social interaction with my classmates and found virtual lessons quite challenging at times. That said, I think my productivity improved as I spent less time commuting to college or stuck in traffic. I’ve been really fortunate as building work has continued throughout the pandemic and I hope to complete my Diploma later this year.
Ollie, aged 21, is a third-year apprentice at RPM and is studying towards a Diploma in Plumbing & Heating at Uxbridge College.
I don’t like the idea of doing a job that involves being sat at a desk. My apprenticeship allows me to learn about every aspect of plumbing and heating along with all the different technical factors of working on a major building project. I have learnt so much during my apprenticeship and it's definitely boosted my confidence.
My day starts at 8am. First thing I always do is check-in for a team briefing, then I’ll begin to work my way through different jobs for the day. At the moment I’m working on radiators, so I like the fact that every day is different and you're always working with other people - It's like we're one big family onsite! I will usually continue working on a particular task until the end of the working day which is at 4pm. I love the pride that comes with each job, but there have been days that are physically and mentally exhausting, but the work is always rewarding.
One of the main things, for me, is the level of support you get from your team, everybody is happy to help and pass on their experience. It’s also great to learn technical skills at college and then have an instant opportunity to put that into practice at work. I'm keen to learn more about commercial and domestic heating and plumbing and would like to qualify as a gas engineer after completing my apprenticeship. What advice would you give to someone who is considering an apprenticeship? Apprenticeships are a great alternative to university if you're genuinely interested in this field of work. There's a level suitable for everyone so my advice would be to research all your options and apply!