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Many businesses have had to freeze or reduce staff levels, which means taking on apprentices has become an expensive luxury

So you’ve decided you want to become a plumber. That’s great news, but brace yourself – you’re in for the hardest part of the journey… getting a plumbing apprenticeship.

To stay profitable many businesses have had to freeze or reduce staff levels, which means taking on apprentices has become an expensive luxury.

But this cuts both ways. There are also factors and concerns that you, as the potential apprentice, need to consider. Is the prospective boss stable enough in their business to keep you employed for four years? Are they licensed and insured? Do you get on well? But since plumbing apprenticeships are hard to find, don’t turn one down without some serious thought.

Remember that while apprentice wages do seem low, the employer is also responsible for paying your TAFE NSW training costs, making sure you’re covered by Workers Compensation insurance, paying your superannuation and paying you while you have a one month holiday. You’re a potential $100,000 investment, and not many employers will take that decision lightly. That’s why you have to really sell yourself.

Find an Employer

Use services such as the Australian Apprenticeships Support Network or the Master Plumbers Association of NSW to help find a provider.

Pre-Apprenticeships

TAFE NSW offers a number of plumbing pre-apprenticeship courses like the Statement of Attainment in Plumbing (Pre-Apprenticeship) or Certificate II in Construction Pathways (which will provide credits in most Certificate III qualifications in building and construction trades).

Selling yourself

Your prospective employer has probably never met you and knows nothing about you. You need to convey very quickly why you are the person their company needs to hire above all the other candidates. With the competition stakes so high we’ve devised a list of the “Dos” and “Don’ts” of landing an apprenticeship.

Don’t

  • rely on mum or dad. You’re an adult now, it’s time to act like one.
  • meet a prospective employer dressed poorly – first impressions count.
  • mumble. Kids do this. Young adults don’t.
  • ever give a tradesman a limp handshake.

Do

  • have a professional CV prepared. Email it, post it, hand deliver it… persistence is a sign of desire and drive.
  • start looking early (especially if you’re in year 12)
  • get your CV to Master Plumbers Association of NSW. They have a set allocation of how many apprentices they’ll register, then they may place you with a host employer. Again, get in early.
  • be relentless, leave no stone unturned. Ask your family plumber if they (or any of their friends) are taking an apprentice. Do you know any plumbers involved with your junior sports teams? You may not realise that you already know a prospective employer so never be afraid to ask. The worst that can happen is to be told they’re not hiring this year.
  • decide which kind of plumber you’d like to train under. There are plumbers who work on large building sites, plumbers who build new homes and plumbers who fix things. Each one has a different set of skills. But don’t be too picky. You can always train in one field and learn another later.

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