Plumbing is one of the world’s oldest professions dating back to Roman times.
It was even considered a great choice of career by Albert Einstein, who declared in November 1954: “If I would be a young man again and had to decide how to make my living, I would not try to become a scientist or scholar or teacher. I would rather choose to be a plumber or a peddler in the hope to find that modest degree of independence still available under present circumstances.”
With more than 230,000 jobs expected to be created in construction by 2020, a growth of 2.5% each year – 3.5% in Greater London – there has never been a better time to get into the industry.
Shamsuddin Miah, 36, had hoped to become a teacher, but a congenital heart condition since birth saw him turn his attention to construction, and more specifically plumbing, following advice from a tutor at The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL).
He is now studying a Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing and Heating, having completed Level 1 last year and before that a Level 1 Diploma in Basic Construction, which covered various industry skills, including bricklaying, painting and woodwork.
“When I was doing the bricklaying I was in agony, and my tutor asked me if I’d thought about plumbing, as they thought I’d be good at it and it would be less demanding strength-wise,” he said
"A lightbulb moment happened. I thought, okay I’ll do that, and I’ve not looked back.”
An Islamic preacher by profession – he graduated with a Degree in Islamic Theology in 2006 – Shamsuddin conceded that this alone was not enough to pay the bills.
On a plumbing career, he added: “People will always need the houses, so there will always be need for the trades and a need for plumbers, to help put everything together. Having this under my belt is another skill which I can use to help my community.”
Being a mature student, Shamsuddin admitted he initially felt like “the grandad of the group”, but has since taken a number of his fellow students under his wing and regularly organises revision sessions.
One of those whom he has influenced is Joseph Gunn, 21, who decided to follow in his brother James’s footsteps.
“When I left school I went to work for a wholesaler. It was a bit of a dead-end job while I tried to work out what I wanted to do,” said Joseph, who also previously studied Plumbing and Heating at Level 1 at CONEL.
“I spoke to my brother, who has been a plumber since leaving school, and he said come and work for me for the weekend, so I did and I enjoyed it.”
Joseph recently secured a job in the trade and his employer has been so impressed with his progress they have allowed him to study for the Level 2 Diploma, with his tutors confident he will complete the course with merits, if not distinctions.
“I feel a lot less stressed and much more positive and happier in myself,” said Joseph. “I am much more confident now than when I was at school. The College has got a proper workshop and fittings tools – it’s all there. There’s also extra practical in the week, so there’s enough time to get the work done,” he said.
“Our tutor has been brilliant. His relates his life skills and shares his experience with us, which is really good, and is helping me to get to where I need to be to become a fully qualified plumber.”
- Last Updated: 18 November 2016