I’m often asked by parents whether our company is offering any apprenticeships and whether I knew of any apprenticeships that were being offered. I like to be nice to these parents because I understand they are doing the right thing for their child, but unfortunately, they’re not doing the right thing for their child’s plumbing career.
May is not the time of year to be asking about plumbing apprenticeships. Unfortunately plumbers have been reluctant to put on an apprentice due to the lack of work. It’s great for the Government to give incentives to employers to put on apprentices but when you don’t have enough work to carry them through their apprenticeship then the incentive becomes void.
So how do you go about getting an apprenticeship?
Due to the lack of apprenticeships currently being offered in the workplace you need to make sure you ‘stand out’ in the crowd of the want-to-be an apprentice pool. You also need to understand when to start sending your resume and letter of application and what you can do in the meantime.
Here are my ten tips on getting a plumbing apprenticeship.
1. Plumbing companies usually start looking for apprentices in October and November so that they can start their apprentice in January the following year. It pays to ring plumbing companies in September and October to be the first in the know of plumbing apprenticeships that the company may be offering the following year.
2. Start writing your resume and draft a letter asking for apprenticeship opportunities. Which plumbing companies do you write to? ALL OF THEM. Get onto Yellow Pages and the Master Plumbers website to find plumbing companies in your area and write to them all.
3. After a week of sending in your resume and letter, ring the company to ensure they received your paperwork and whether they are offering any apprenticeships.
4. If it’s the middle of the year and you decide that you want to be a plumbing apprentice or an apprentice for any other trade, look at your local Tafe and see what Certificate I courses are available. These courses can run from 4-6 weeks and teach you the basics of the trade (learning names of tools and how to use them, welding, sheet-metal work and etc) Doing a course like this will help you with two things – one, it will determine whether you like that type of work or trade and two is a great point to put on your resume. Doing a course like this shows potential employers that you are keen to do a trade because you have studied in your own time.
5. Once you have done a course, get a casual sales job at Bunnings, Reece or Tradelink or any other building supplier related to your trade. This will help you to learn names of fittings quite quickly and this will be a skill that you will need in your first year of your apprenticeship.
6. Don’t get your parents to ring up or write your application for you. By all means give your application letter and resume to your parents to proofread, but don’t send the application letter signed by your parents. Companies want to hear from the individual applying and not their parents.
7. If you’re in school, do a school based apprenticeship. You will knock off a couple of stages of your Tafe requirements while you are at school meaning you will get a head start on your career and you will get better wages sooner.
8. Don’t complain about the low wages. I get parents and apprentices complaining about the low wages in the early years of an apprenticeship. What needs to be understood is that at the end of your plumbing apprenticeship, you won’t have a HECs debt like your University friends that run into the thousands. Secondly, yes you could get paid better wages at McDonalds but you will always be a McDonalds crew worker. When you do an apprenticeship, the pay gets better and the job opportunities can be endless. You need to look at the bigger picture. Companies won’t hire apprentices that complain about their wages.
9. Get work experience from plumbers or other trades. Be a labourer for a day when on school holidays if you’re at school or if you are a middle aged apprentice use these experiences to add substance to your resume.
10. Search job search sites on the internet. Enquire at the Master Plumbers Association for apprenticeship opportunities. Enquire at All Trades QLD for apprenticeship opportunities.
If you are a female wanting an apprenticeship, do all the tips above. It is sexual discrimination if your application is not taken seriously. The majority of plumbing firms are now equal opportunity employers.
How did you get your apprenticeship?