Essex based plumbing apprentice, Stuart James, is in his final year and, on completion of his apprenticeship, should be progressing into a fully fledge engineer. With the support of his employer, RCH, he is going to be taking the GAS Approved Code of Practices, which will eventually see him qualify as a Plumbing and Heating Engineer.
"I started my apprenticeship four years ago now. It's probably the best career move I could have taken as it's enabled me to gain my qualifications, while getting valuable working experience at the same time. I've also been paid a salary the whole way along, so I've managed to avoid getting into the usual debts that most people who attend college find themselves in.
"I'm based in Leigh on Sea and employed by a family run firm - RCH Group - who have invested in my training throughout the last four years. My boss, Ray, has given me a great deal of support throughout my apprenticeship and has made sure that I've got the best out of my training. He keeps an eye on what I do and how I'm developing, but while out on site, I worked closely with our supervisors and fully qualified Plumbing and Heating Engineers. They were responsible for making sure I was working safely and also that I was up to scratch for the particular stage I was at.
"I've had a dedicated Training Officer, Tim, throughout my apprenticeship and he's always been on hand to provide support and advice whenever I've needed it. He comes to visit me on site and at college and works closely with Ray and ensures that we are both getting the best out of the apprenticeship.
"I probably enjoyed the on site aspect of my apprenticeship the most as I like being hands on and also it's good to be part of a team. It can be hard work at times, but we always find time to have a laugh together and there's a good social element outside of work.
"I'm glad I chose plumbing as a career because I really enjoy what I do and it offers me a lot of options for the future. I can make it into what I want and may even end up running my own business one day. What's more it offers a certain level of job security as people are always going to need someone to sort out their plumbing!"