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Written by Naomi Mills, an apprentice plumber at Selwood Housing.

Naomi Mills, apprentice plumber

Hi, my name is Naomi Mills and I have been a plumbing apprentice for two and a bit years. I choose to apply for an apprenticeship as I was at a really low point in my life and I wanted to make a career. Life had, kind of, passed me by a bit and I never got round to it, and I was told they were up on the website and I thought, 'You know what, I'm going to give it a go,' and yes, that's it really. The main thing was I wanted to make a better life in the long run.

My favourite part about this apprenticeship has been learning new skills that I had absolutely no knowledge of, I'd never even done any DIY, and meeting all the lads that I work with, they're amazing.

I wouldn't be here now if it hadn't been for them. I'd have given it up.

A typical workday at the moment, we're on response, so we get our jobs in the morning. Most of the time, we've already got the material on board that we're going to need that day. If not, we'll go to one of the merchants and then we work our way through our list of jobs. For example, today, we're on an all-day job, fitting a new bath but other days, we could be all over the county doing minor repairs, you know, fitting new taps, new water cylinders. It's so varied at the moment.

I really just like doing what I'm doing, really like meeting the tenants, being with the guys that I work with, and, every day, developing my new skills really, I enjoy that.

The best advice I can give is don't give it up, it will get easier. It'll click one day.

It was difficult doing an apprenticeship during a COVID. I was furloughed for five months, and then we weren't able to go to college either. So, a lot of the learning, I did on my own at home and was really glad that I didn't really need to extend the apprenticeship really.

If you are thinking about starting an apprenticeship just do it, do it when you've got the opportunity. Maybe don't leave it as late in life as I did because, you know, it's easier to learn while you're young, but if you are older, then just go for it anyway.

You know, it's a great way to learn. You get paid while you're training. It's just a really, really valuable opportunity.

I mean, from my perspective, it would be really good to see older apprentices as well. It might be another side of the market that maybe isn't thought about so much. Like, us oldies, you know, we've still got the experience on our side as well, life experience. So, it'd be nice for others to know that you've still got those opportunities to learn, even when you're old, like me.

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