As part of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week, WaterSafe spoke to 33-year-old Jodie Dixon, an apprentice with WaterSafe approved business 365 Plumbing Ltd in North Devon. Jodie shares her thoughts on why apprenticeships aren’t just for school leavers and what makes a great apprentice.

Please tell us about your apprenticeship and how you got started
I got started by accident really, my uncle had moved to Devon with his plumbing business and I started working for him as a labourer, then took an interest in the plumbing side of things. I currently study an Adult level 2 plumbing course at Petroc College for one day a week and I work four days a week for the business.

What attracted you to the plumbing industry?
I’ve previously worked for the Royal Navy and in mental health care and consider myself a very practical, hands-on person – which are great transferable skills for the plumbing industry I think. I also love the satisfaction of a good transformation – an 80s bathroom given a sleek, modern makeover for example!

What do you think makes a great apprentice?
Being open to every opportunity out there. Being responsive to your employer’s needs and showing that you’re always keen to learn. Every day is different so you must make the most of it.

What are the advantages of an apprenticeship?
It’s an ideal scenario for me, a chance to earn while I learn. I’m building a career and seeing instant results with practical, on-the-job work experience.

What could employers do to improve things for apprentices?
I’m lucky to have a family connection that led to my apprenticeship, but it can be tough to get taken on. I’d encourage employers to be open to offering an apprenticeship – some people might think they don’t have time to take on an apprentice, but they could end up reaping the benefit of having a loyal employee at the end of it.

What are your thoughts on being a female in the plumbing and heating industry?
My experience has been really positive and I’ve not experienced any discrimination being the only female on my course or when I’m at work – everyone treats me the same way. And it can be an advantage too – the moment I turn up in an older person’s home they visibly relax and are very happy to have a female plumber.

Do you have any advice for would-be apprentices on getting an apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships can work at any age, so don’t think you have to be a school-leaver to go for it. It’s also really important to go down the correct training routes and avoid fast-track courses. And my top tip – make sure you are aware of any government bursaries that you may be entitled to.

The business you’re working for is WaterSafe approved – what does this mean to you?
It means the business is water industry approved, because its employees are trained in the water regulations that help keep drinking water safe. This gives peace of mind and means that we often take on work in schools and hospitals as well as domestic properties.

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