Josh Rowley is an 18-year-old plumbing and heating apprentice with D. A. Bunning Gas.
He has been with the Shropshire-based company for around a year after applying for an apprenticeship.
We caught up with Josh to ask him how he got into the trade, and why he loves learning on the tools.
HIP Magazine: Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?
Josh Rowley: I wanted to get into some construction work because I always liked to get physically hands on. After I left school, I decided to do plumbing as it was involved within construction and I was a lot more interested in the plumbing side of things than anything else. I did one year but decided I wanted to do physical work, so I did property maintenance for around a year where I gained many skills and really got to know the ins and out of a property. However, I realised that I couldn’t take my learning any further, meaning that I wouldn’t get a qualification at the end of it. Knowing I had learnt a lot about construction, I decided to go and look for an apprenticeship. I found a business called D. A. Bunning Gas which focused mainly on gas.
HIP: Why did you want to work for them?
JR: This was a blessed moment for me because it was something completely different to plumbing, which is mainly bathrooms. They focused on gas fires, gas cookers and gas boilers. I was really intrigued to know more so I searched the company website, where I realised how far I could go with my qualifications, so I applied for the job and several weeks later I joined the team and I’m coming up to the first year of my apprenticeship. I can’t thank my boss enough for what he has taught me so far. I have learned so much and it’s all thanks to the apprenticeship.
HIP: How do you feel as an apprentice within a company?
JR: I would say I’m very valued when it comes to work, because I get the job done and help to get the job done quicker – but finish it with a quality standard. I feel very supported by the workers as they push for success and any questions I have, they answer for me there and then. Because I’m working with someone who is self-employed, you feel as if you get more support because there isn’t as many to teach like there is in college. That’s a big benefit in my eyes because it’s one-on-one teaching, so I learn a great deal. In college there are a lot of students to help out – but don’t get me wrong, colleges point you in the right direction and also help in any way possible.
HIP: Were you ever told about apprenticeships in school or were you pushed down the route of A-Levels?
JR: I don’t feel like school set out any goals for you, I felt lost in school not knowing what I was going to do when I leave. It seemed like teachers just did their jobs and didn’t push for objectives. I hadn’t heard about apprenticeships in school and hadn’t heard of A-Levels. You don’t hear about apprenticeships unless you personally choose to do a course in college, and only then you hear about apprenticeships. I feel if I’d heard about apprenticeships in school it would make you a lot more interested in doing them. It gives the chance to do research on the course they want and therefore they get a greater idea of the course they want to do and have a better idea of the surroundings, rather than jumping in the deep end and not having a clue what to do.
HIP: What don’t you enjoy about your apprenticeship?
JR: There’s literally nothing I can think of! People might say wages, but it doesn’t bother me because it’s all about the job you’re in. If you’re doing it for the money then you’re doing it wrong and won’t get far. The first year, is a learning year and you can’t bring much to the table. Because of my previous job I am providing a lot more than a standard apprentice would, so you could argue I should get paid more, but I don’t mind.
HIP: If someone was thinking about doing an apprenticeship, would you recommend it and what advice would you give them?
JR: Yes! I would tell them to do some research on what they want to do so they know what will be involved. I had a taster day before I started which was a great idea, so on behalf of the employer I’d push for a taster day so you can get a proper feel for it.