Plumbing tutor Paul Oatham demonstrates bending tectite plastic pipe to Homes for Haringey plumber Natasha MacDonald

CONEL’s week-long celebration of National Apprenticeships Week culminated in an Open Day on Saturday (11 March 2017) and saw its former apprentice, now qualified plumber Natasha MacDonald, return to take part in a Q&A as part of National Apprenticeships Week. Former Haringey Mayor, Cllr Jennifer Man joined Natasha for the panel event chaired by CONEL Apprenticeships Manager, Paul Jenner.

Praising the College’s 30 year track record in Apprenticeship training, Cllr Mann remarked that “Haringey Council is very proud of this college being in our borough.”

The Homes for Haringey plumber, Natasha was asked if she found it hard to succeed in a traditionally male industry. She replied: “Most people are incredibly positive; it’s very rare to find anyone who’s is negative about working with a female plumber.”

Asked about her future, Natasha said she would be interested in moving into management and is also thinking about setting up her own business.

Natasha described how she had originally taking A Levels at school, but found it wasn’t for her and moved onto a Level 3 Childcare course at the College. She achieved her qualification, but also needed to provide for her small daughter and realised the move into a Plumbing Apprenticeship was the answer. With nothing but praise for the support she received from her employer and the college who were able to provide a flexible approach to her childcare needs, Natasha qualified as a plumber around six years ago.  A nationally award winning apprentice plumber, Natasha achieved a regional Adult Learner’s Week Award in 2009, as well as the VQ Day regional and National Awards in 2010.  

Asked for tips as to how to make it as a plumber, Natasha responded: “If you work really hard, anyone can do it – and I was lucky because my employer and tutors were so supportive.”

Natasha’s view was reinforced by CONEL plumbing teacher Paul Oatham. “Many people can do it, but it does take about four years of practice and determination."

Natasha later returned to her old plumbing workshop and was amazed to discover a new material called tektite pipe. She was so pleased with its easy to bend capabilities compared to the more traditional copper that she was going to tell her employers about it when she returned to work.

Cllr Jennifer Mann, Paul Jenner and Natasha MacDonald at the Q and A

The Open Day also featured an Employer’s Fair attended by Hail Ltd, London Waste and Shine Partnerships.

Marlene Moreno, HR Adviser at London Waste said: "We have been working with the College to take on mechanical engineering apprentices. The apprentices spend their first year with the college training then they gain the practical skills with us. They have been working on some great projects like the 2025 brand new power plant."

If you are interested in an apprenticeship please click here or call 020 8442 3442.

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