Anne Timpany, Director at On Tap Plumbers, examines some easy ways installers can get the most out of the industry.
It’s been well documented that we have a severe skills gap in this country and it’s not likely to improve post-Brexit. To make matters worse, successive governments have consistently undervalued trades.
Yet those of us who work in the industry know the value of what we do, especially at this time of year when boilers break down, frozen pipes burst, or the sink has a leak.
There are a lot of hard-working tradespeople, especially plumbers, who produce top class work, but there are many others whose standards are not as high as they should be. As plumbers, you’ve probably all had to repair a botched installation or fix a problem that the last plumber left behind.
Whether you’re a one man band or have employees, it’s important to keep on developing and to encourage the next generation of plumbers to constantly improve the quality of their work. A good apprentice is worth their weight in gold, although they have only the basic qualifications, what they learn during their training period can set them up for life. It’s vitally important for the more experienced plumbers to be role models and raise the professionalism and reputation of the industry as a whole.
If you’re not already a member, it’s a good idea to join the Association of Plumbers and Heating Contractors (APHC), which was set up to provide plumbing and heating contractors with support and cost saving benefits, allowing them to run professional and profitable businesses.
It encourages training and best practice within the industry, providing consumers with the reassurance of quality workmanship and service, distinguishing its members from ruthless rogue traders. Being a member of the APHC is like having a ‘kitemark’, confirming expertise and quality workmanship.
Running a business on your own can also be very stressful, and the long unsociable hours many plumbers work is very demanding on both your health and relationships. It’s important to take time out and take care of your mental health as well as your physical health. Organisations such as Mates in Mind have been set up to deal with the pressures in the construction industry and they raise awareness and understanding of mental health by helping people to understand how, when, and where to get support, and promote a culture of positive wellbeing throughout the industry.
It’s also a good idea to reach out to other plumbers in the industry and one of the best ways to do that is on social media. Find out what industry people are saying and join the conversation. Discussing best practice and earning from your fellow plumbers is a great way to improve your skills and the quality of your work.
Plumbing offers great opportunities with a well-paid, stable career. We need much more diversity across the board in an inclusive industry which welcomes anyone who is prepared to do the training and work hard. With more collaboration between us, we can really improve the quality and the reputation of the industry as a whole.