Comment: Apprenticeships make pipe dreams into reality

I wanted to be a firefighter when I was growing up, so when my schools career adviser started pushing me towards a career in administration, I should have known it would not last long.
Having a trade means a job for life, says Zoe Hume. Picture: contributed.Having a trade means a job for life, says Zoe Hume. Picture: contributed.
Having a trade means a job for life, says Zoe Hume. Picture: contributed.

After a fairly boring work placement in an administrative role, I decided to seek out something more hands-on and active. I was lucky enough to come across Jobs and Business Glasgow, an organisation which helps Glasgow residents find work. They put me on a YouthBuild pre-apprenticeship programme for eight weeks where I gained my CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) accreditation for construction safety.

This was a real turning point for me as it introduced me to a whole new world of construction, and just goes to show that if you are willing to try something new, opportunities are there for the taking.

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During my college course I really got the bug for the construction sector, and afterwards was lucky enough to 
get a placement with Cruden Building, starting off as a labourer for six months. I loved the variety and it allowed me to see all the different trades on site. Over time, plumbing was the one that caught my eye.

I worked hard, showed enthusiasm and was very proud to be given the opportunity to start a four-year modern apprentice programme in plumbing through the Cruden Academy.

I have already passed my third year exams and I’m in my final year of training before I will be SNIPEF (Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation) accredited. Plumbing really is a lifelong trade and there will always be a need for my skills.

The variety of my job keeps me on my toes. I currently work at a site where Cruden is building new homes, so I could be working on drainage one day or on new bathrooms or kitchens the next. I take huge pride in my work and like to stand back and look at the finished piece at the end of the day and think, “I did that myself”.

Although the construction sector is largely male dominated, everyone looks after me and I feel very much part of the team – both on site and across the wider company. Cruden Building employs about 300 joiners, bricklayers, plumbers, painters and labourers, and there are around 90 apprentices throughout the Cruden Group.

During my time here, I’ve never been made to feel different or faced any challenges from being a woman in construction. It tends to be my friends and those I meet outside of work that are surprised by my job. I think there are still a lot of misperceptions about the construction industry and as far as careers advice goes, I really don’t think it’s on the radar nearly enough.

This needs to change, because young people are missing out on a fantastic industry and the chance to find a job that really suits them. I got lucky by finding the YouthBuild programme but so many young people don’t even know opportunities like this are an option. I can only hope that by speaking about it, I can help spread the word.

Construction is a great sector to work in for men and women alike. Having a trade means a job for life and it can open up so many options to you, so I really think more young people, especially women, need to reconsider working in this important sector.

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Gaining a trade has not only given me confidence and fantastic opportunities, it’s also put me on a great path to a secure future.

I hope to stay with Cruden after I have finished my apprenticeship, and maybe one day travel to Australia. I quite fancy plumbing in the sun!

Zoe Hume is an apprentice plumber with Cruden Building.