Could you get a plumbing apprenticeship?
A plumbing apprenticeship is becoming very difficult to obtain and it is now rare to obtain places for apprentices at the current time. It has been made worse by government legislation that states that all employees, by law, have a minimum level of pay and holidays, in addition to all the usual company benefits. So, the problem is mostly a financial one.
In an ideal world everybody should have a good level of pay and working conditions, but this was not the case in old days. Although this might be an ideal situation in the modern world most small employers do not have that level of resources to finance the apprentice; it really is that simple. What has consequently happened then is that plumbing businesses do not offer plumbing apprenticeships at all; they have ceased.
The consequence of this is that there is now a shortage of highly trained plumbers over the whole of the UK. The situation is not getting any better because rather than the government giving financial help to small companies to get the training back, they have chosen to adopt a policy of providing subsidies for thousands of immigrants to the UK where more often than not poor quality trades people are welcomed with open arms. The eastern bloc countries especially are coming here in their thousands.
This has to a point filled some holes in the market, but at a huge cost. It is a shame because people already living here wanting to become plumbers here are being told there are no plumbing training jobs. It is a growing problem because cheap labour from foreign countries does mostly have a negative effect. Many people coming here find that they are not able to survive without government intervention because the cost of living is so high. They are helped financially causing a further drain to the taxpayer.
In the old days somebody wanting to start a plumbing apprenticeship would work for very little money on the understanding that he or she would start at an early age, usually live at home, and be supported by mum or dad whilst the training was going on. The early sacrifice of money and benefits at work would be compensated at a later date once the training was complete. This way, the employer could afford to finance the apprentice plumber. In fact, it was normal for the parents or guardians to also enter into the plumbing apprenticeship contract to provide living expenses whilst the training was carried out.
Five years later, a fully qualified plumber would emerge. Those days are long gone, and it seems that right now they will never return. People have different expectations nowadays and it is unlikely that people learning the plumbing trade would be prepared to sacrifice five years of wages just to learn a trade. Of course, plumbing apprenticeships started early, usually when you left school at sixteen and it would follow that even aged twenty one, most firms would only allow newly qualified plumbers to carry out small works, and not large plumbing jobs.
When we take a look at some of the work carried out by plumbers of years ago we can see the quality and skills needed. They were artisans and it took years to become an expert. It is fair to say that proper plumbing apprenticeships are almost dead. There are so few opportunities for people now that this route is almost just a pipe dream. It is still possible to get started in plumbing but for the majority of people they will have to look at a different route.