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Your guide to finding a plumbing apprenticeship in the UK

Updated on June 28, 2011

Why do you need a plumbing apprenticeship?

For the last couple of years the UK has been in recession, yet the demand for highly skilled tradesman with a formal plumbing apprenticeship has stayed strong, particularly in the domestic market. Who doesn't know of someone that has found it hard to find a reliable plumber? With a recognised skill gap slowly being filled with college based and privately supplied courses, competition for plumbing apprenticeship places is becoming fierce.

The hardest part for most embarking on a plumbing apprenticeship is finding a placement with a company prepared to take you on whilst you complete your plumbing apprenticeship. It is this stage that everyone agrees is the most vital. Working alongside an experienced plumber you will learn how to apply the basic skills you have acquired in the classroom.

This article focuses on helping you to find your plumbing apprenticeship placement. Remember though that finding your placement is one thing, getting accepted and then keeping hold of your plumbing apprenticeship is where the hard work begins. We have contacted a busy independent plumber in Birmingham (Nick from Morgan Plumbing Services) to provide you with the plumbers view on your plumbing apprenticeship search. Hopefully this advice will put your application one step ahead of the competition!

A great CV is the foundation to your plumbing apprenticeship

Plumbing apprenticeship placement - Making first contact

Advertised placements for apprenticeship placements fill very quickly and often aren't even advertised. Established plumbing companies often have many contacts throughout the trade and colleges and often cherry pick good candidates without the need to advertise or interview extensively. Bear in mind that whilst overall at the moment there is a need for more plumbers, many employers are being cautious, preferring to risk turning work away than have plumbers on the books with no work for them. This all means your application will have to stand head and shoulders above the rest. Below are some simple steps for applying to companies for your plumbing apprenticeship;

1) Create your CV. Avoid just listing your achievements. As a young person, these are unlikely to stand out. Instead find ways to relate them to your chosen career path and show potential employers how suited you are to this work. Try to include examples of your work, especially anything outside of the college environment. This shows your wider commitment and interest in the subject.

2) Identify potential employers. Create a list of possible employers. Recognise that finding an employer isnt going to be easy, in a large city such a Birmingham you may have to contact dozens or even hundreds of plumbing companies to find your apprenticeship. Find a quiet moment to call each one, introduce yourself and politely ask if there is someone you can send your cv to for consideration for any current or future plumbing apprenticeships. By doing this you'll be personalising your application and by making a good first impression on the phone, your brilliant CV will find its way to the right person.

3) Hopefully by now there are at least a hundred local plumbers in your area with your CV on the desk. They have had a polite conversation with you, read your carefully thought out CV and been impressed with examples of your work. Now, rather than rejecting your application, they are trying to figure out a way to include this impressive, motivated individual as a plumbing apprentice. Now is the time to tip the balance in your favour. Get out your list and ring around again, asking if they have had your CV and would they be interested in taking you on for a fortnight as an unpaid labourer. If you have done everything above then you should have plumbers queuing up for a little help during these tough times. Congratulations you are well on your way to that plumbing apprenticeship!

"If this all seems like to much hard work, then you wont make it in the world of plumbing where being prepared to work hard is a minimum requirement."

Advice from our plumber

"we get sent a CV every week at the moment and we have never advertised for apprenticeships. Most applicants seem to have very little idea about making a successful application. We regularly have phone calls from mothers, fathers and even girlfriends of potential applicants ringing us up on their behalf. what applicants fail to realise is that during your apprenticeship your employer will be investing a lot of time and money in you, time that could be spent with their families or simply earning themselves more. If its too much trouble to ring them yourself then don't be surprised if they don't offer you a plumbing apprenticeship!"

keep busy on your plumbing apprenticeship

Plumbing apprenticeship - Making your trial a success!

So your hard work has paid off, youve got your foot in the door and your plumbing apprenticeship is just a short trial period away! However if you think its been hard work so far, then be prepared as you are going to have to work your socks off to secure your apprenticeship. Firstly read what our case study has to say about what is required from the perfect apprentice;

"Show drive and determination to work hard and learn. You don't know everything yet, so we expect hundreds of questions. If you don't ask questions then it suggests you aren't applying yourself. Plumbing is a huge topic, every job is different and the sooner you realise that your time at college has barely scratched the surface, the better plumber you will be. Learn, Learn, Learn. Think about the days work when you go home and come back tomorrow with questions. To start with there will be very little plumbing you can do, but there is always sweeping or tidying that needs doing. The less time your employer spends tidying or sweeping up , the more time he can spend answering your questions and teaching you!"

Enjoy your plumbing apprenticeship!

 So after a few weeks hard work you have got yourself a plumbing apprenticeship and can look to your future life as a plumber. The most important thing to remember is that your plumbing apprenticeship is YOUR job. Its not an extension of college where you can get away with turning up late or have a day off sick if you don't fancy it. You'll be working in a tough environment with colleagues who will have to work harder if you don't make it in that day. Work hard and take your apprenticeship seriously, prove to your employer that when your apprenticeship ends it would be madness not to take you on as a plumber on a full-time salary!

A final word on plumbing apprenticeships from our case study!

 "Without doubt, plumbing is a great industry to be involved with, completing a luxury bathroom or fixing a leak in the middle of the night can give you a real buzz and undoubtedly the financial rewards can be very decent.

Do not make the mistake of thinking it will be easy, college is just the start, to become a great plumber and secure a good job you need to make sure the learning starts after college ends. Show commitment to the trade and your employer, and they will show commitment to you. We dont need an apprentice at the moment, but recently we received a CV that went straight to the top of our pile.

This applicant had sent us a very well thought out cv, as well as some evidence of work they had done, a polite introductory cover letter and a copy of a newspaper article about their search for a plumbing apprenticeship. I havent even met this candidate of seen them at work, but from the effort they have put in to their application, I know their commitment and hard work to date is worth checking out.

Good luck with your search for a plumbing apprenticeship and dont give up!"

(Nick Morgan. Morgan Plumbing Services)


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