“I left school at the end of year 12, with NCEA level two, and worked with a builder for about a year and a half. I decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do, so I became a plumbing apprentice through The Apprentice Training Trust, which incorporates study at Unitec and working full-time for Affordable Plumbing Solutions.”
Caleb wants to travel and take his trade with him, as well as to start his own business one day … but for now, he is enjoying all of the variety that comes with being a plumber. From working on multimillion dollar houses, to searching for roof leaks in a rental property, Caleb likes helping people by solving their plumbing problems by using his skills of tracing leaks, accurately measuring and marking out positions for showers, baths, vanities, kitchens and many other things.
“As every job is different, it is important to keep an open mind and have good problem solving skills to be able to keep the clients happy. In our job, we often deal with a lot of different people, from grumpy builders to wealthy business-men, so having the skills to be able to communicate and relate with this differing range of people is important.”
With a few learning curves to overcome – including having to do roofing work while not being the best with heights, and being paid less than minimum wage as an apprentice – Caleb is glad that he chose plumbing, and while he found it challenging to get into the industry, his perseverance did pay off in the end.
“The work is not as easy as it looks; it’s actually quite difficult. But for me, it was really hard trying to find a plumber that would take me on as an apprentice. I think I applied to more than 20 plumbers and only had about two or three maybes before APS took me on.
“It’s a really physical job climbing through roof cavities to crawling under houses, so being physically fit is also important. I think my biggest piece of advice to anyone wanting to be a plumber would be that when you do eventually get a job, make sure you work as hard as you can because it won’t go unnoticed.”