Learning a trade is something that not many young people seem to consider these days – and to be honest we’re not really sure why. Being an electrician, plumber, decorator, or anything else that’s considered a ‘trade’ can actually be pretty lucrative – and often tradesmen (or women) are self-employed so they get to be really flexible with when they work.

A recent study by education charity Edge and the City & Guilds Group found that parents think plumbing apprenticeships make young people more employable than their peers who studied at university, however most of them said that they still wanted their children to get a degree. At the end of the day, what you study is your choice, so it’s pretty important to seek out other routes into employment, and apprenticeships is a pretty good one.

With that in mind, we had a chat with a plumber and an electrician from aspect.co.uk to find out why you should train to follow in their footsteps.

Martin Toogood started working as a plumber 30 years ago and still thinks it’s a great job. “I come from a family of skilled workers – my dad was a skilled worker as well as my brother so it was seen as a good job to have,” he says. “It’s a better job now than it was 30 years ago – it’s more lucrative but also more complex.”

Kieran Stanton is an electrician who didn’t know what he wanted to do when he left school ten years ago at 16. He decided to train as an electrician after his dad told him that learning a trade would help him in future life. “You get to meet a lot of different people and go to a lot of different places, you’re not stuck in the same place all the time,” Kieran says. “You’re always out and about meeting new people.”

Learning a trade can also make you very popular – especially in a crisis. “It means you can help friends out and give people advice and all that,” Martin says. “Plumbers are good friends or relatives to have.” Kieran adds that it’s definitely a bonus to be able to fix things at home if they go wrong.

It’s not just about popularity though, there’s a serious amount of work involved in being a tradesman (or woman). And you’ve definitely got to have your brain in gear because if you leave a job without fixing whatever you were sent to fix, you’re going to end up with some very unhappy customers. “You need patience for maintenance because you’re dealing with things that have already been installed they might not be installed properly or there might not be enough space,” Martin says. “Things are installed with no mind to future maintenance, put in an awkward position and people come and build things on top of what’s been installed.”

But Kieran warns that there can be some antisocial hours involved too. “Two weeks ago I was on call and I had a call at three in the morning,” he says. “You’ve got to go and attend emergency call outs. You’ve got to be willing to do that kind of thing.”

But if you think you can deal with that, then you’ll be pleased to hear that although the pay for plumbers doesn’t start off incredibly high, it gets significantly better quite quickly. “Certainly by the time you get to your mid to late twenties you could be looking at earning a decent wage that should carry on for the rest of your life,” Martin says. “If you get a good job as a plumber you could be earning £60,000 or £70,000.” Not bad. We’re definitely considering it now…

If you’re interested in learning a trade, apply for the bootcamp selection day that aspect.co.uk are running to find their new interns. It’s a great opportunity to have a go at some of the trades and you could land a paid month-long internship with aspect.co.uk.

For more advice on getting into a trade, check out this great article from Pass Training and Development.

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