By Izzy Schulman, Director, Plumbers4U

Trade industries are struggling to recruit highly skilled workers to their teams. This particularly hits the plumbing industry with 56 percent of professionals stating a ‘lack of skilled workers’ as the biggest problem facing the industry.

However, introducing apprenticeship schemes to your plumbing business can be an excellent way to encourage potential new talent to join.


Benefits of plumbing apprenticeships

To attract recruits, it’s important to highlight some of the key benefits and rewards of a career in the plumbing industry.

Firstly, the financial benefits of becoming a plumber are regarded as some of the best in the trade profession, with the average salary around £31,787. Saving extra cash on university costs and avoiding hefty tuition fees is another attractive prospect.

Apprenticeships pay you to learn on the job, gain relevant work experience immediately and the prospect of employment soon after completing it, which is something a traditional university degree can’t always guarantee.

Plumbing is also a secure industry. Demands for plumbing services have always remained high and work is regular; even more so with current shortages of trade workers.

Further down the line, there is high potential to start your own business creating opportunities to make more money and be your own boss which has frequently been linked to higher job satisfaction.


Training tips for apprenticeship leaders

First you need to choose a standard for an apprenticeship in your industry and at a suitable level. Next, you need to find a training organisation to partner with, that offers apprenticeships for your chosen framework.

Once this is done, creating a strong support programme is essential to ensure your apprentice settles in well, develops their skill and contributes to the success of the business. Encourage individuals to own and drive their programme targets from the start and to seek regular feedback to self-assess their performance.

Put a workplace learning mentor in place to further enhance the experience. Creating a proactive environment and taking a ‘hands-on’ approach helps broaden the understanding of practices.

An apprentice mentor needs to provide a welcoming environment to kick start a trusting relationship. Be approachable, friendly and patient.


Employer obligations

Before an apprentice starts, they should sign an Apprenticeship Agreement and Commitment Statement., which includes: a training plan, what is offered and expected from the employer and protocol for resolving complaints.

The employer must provide a job contract that is long enough for a student to complete the apprenticeship. Your apprentice must work with experienced staff, learn job-specific tasks and have study time during their working week. This will help them gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed.

Approximately 20 percent of an apprentice’s training should come from off-job training (for example, at a college or training organisation). Your apprentice must be paid for all the time spent training and studying, including any time at college.


Achieving success

The main route to success is setting clear targets and objectives. You should monitor progress regularly and provide frequent feedback.

Keep a copy of your apprentice’s achievements in writing or a simple chart. Creating a visual aid lets apprentices see how they are progressing. Celebrate every achievement, no matter how small, to keep ambition levels high and boost their confidence.