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The apprentice’s viewpoint

    • How to survive an apprenticeship
    • What are the things that they should be themselves doing?
    • IOPSA executive director Brendan Reynolds, offers some sage advice

From an apprentice’s point of view, how best can one survive the plumbing apprenticeship, and what are the things that they should be themselves doing?

IOPSA executive director Brendan Reynolds, offers some sage advice: “Number one is they’ve got to be like a sponge. It doesn’t matter what you learn – take it in, make notes, absorb it, accept it. Everything you do every single day, treat it almost as a gift. That’s the viewpoint you have to have. So when the journeyman makes you dig a trench for the whole day, you can have one of two attitudes: One, that ‘this guy’s treating me like a slave’ by making me do with these horrible jobs; Or you can say, ‘well, trenches are an critical part of any plumber’s work and knowing how to dig trenches, how to make them safe, and how to make them function properly, is important’.

“With the right attitude, an apprentice can and will learn everything possible. Apprentices are often pushed to work long hours – after hours and weekends – and to perform the most horrible jobs. Yet there’s good reason for that. The first reason is that it’s going to show that you’ve got the mental toughness to survive in this industry, because it can be a tough and difficult industry at times. But secondly, is that the apprentice is learning everything they can – and the best apprentices and many of the most successful plumbers that I know, are the ones that have always volunteered when they were young, in their apprenticeship, to do every job opportunity that came up,” says Reynolds.

“We all know that getting into a dirty septic tank to clean it out is a really terrible job, but how do you know what that job entails until you’ve actually done it? That’s my advice for a young person on an apprenticeship. Please don’t think about how dirty a job is, or it’s after hours or it’s just nasty or not fun. Just do as much as you can do and learn as much as you can. Learn whenever you can and absorb as much as possible.

“If you do that, I think your employer will recognise your great attitude (after all, they probably did just the same in their apprenticeship) and will see that you’re eager, willing and interested and always ready to go the extra mile. They will probably end up retaining you at the end of the apprenticeship programme and maybe start pushing you into a career path that shows growth. What every employer is looking for is a willing, excited employee that that wants to do the job,” he says.

Written by Eamonn Ryan

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