Peter Lynch, a Plumbing Lecturer at the Northern Regional College which is teaming up with OFTEC as part of its drive to attract more young people to the plumbing and heating sector, said there would always be a demand for skilled professionals.
“The pandemic has not affected the demand for skilled professionals,” he said. “With the plumbing and heating industry facing a chronic skills shortage due to the age profile of those currently working in the sector, an apprenticeship can create great opportunities. Apprentices in Northern Ireland (aged 16-19) are paid a minimum of £4.30 per hour and it is an excellent way for young people to ‘earn as they learn’ valuable skills to increase their employability.”
Peter continued, “It’s been my experience that those who pass through the College doors don’t regret it. We offer a high-quality training programme designed to meet OFTEC standards, resulting in apprentices and trainees who are prepared and confident to enter the workplace full time.
“I think the industry can often be perceived as being male dominant and that’s something we’re keen to address. It’s a rewarding career and we don’t want anyone to feel that it’s not an option for them. We continue to have inspiring success stories, such as Abigail Reilly, a plumbing apprentice who went on to win a gold medal at the annual Skillbuild NI competition. It would be fantastic to see a more diverse range of applicants this year.”
Northern Regional College is an OFTEC approved training centre, so apprentices get hands on experience and access to the latest equipment. When they complete their apprenticeship, they will be offered free OFTEC registration for one year.
OFTEC registration is recognised by governments, manufacturers, distributors and consumers as a commitment to excellence and demonstrates competence to potential customers. It has a host of benefits including ability to self-certify works, free technical advice, discounts on equipment and services and listings in the OFTEC online database, which consumers frequently consult.
Speaking about his own experiences of the apprenticeship, former student Peter Convery, said, “I went into a plumbing apprenticeship with a local firm straight out of leaving school. I’ve really enjoyed the path it’s set me on. I work throughout the week with one firm, and since gaining my OFTEC training qualification, I’ve picked up additional work on the evenings and weekends with my Dad’s home heating oil firm, Convery Oils, installing tanks and servicing boilers.
“To anyone unsure about the apprenticeship, I would just say that I have found it so worthwhile, and it is a really rewarding industry to work in.”
David Blevings, OFTEC Ireland Manager on T: +44 (0)28 9186 2916
Sean McBride, Ireland Representative on T: +44 (0)7540 502 304 (NI)
or +353 (0)87 241 7041 (RoI)