With the Government looking to build 300,000 new homes each year there is a huge demand for qualified, skilled plumbers across the UK. To mark National Apprenticeship Week from 4-11 February, Harold Impraim shares how an apprenticeship gave him the skills for a plumbing career.
By his own admission, Harold Impraim was lost after graduating from university.
Despite gaining a business studies degree from the University of Bedfordshire, he found himself stuck working in retail and at a cinema in Enfield.
Five years later he decided to retrain as a plumber and today, Harold, 37, runs his own business, Higreen Plumbing and Handyman Services in Tottenham.
“I wasn’t enjoying work and felt like something was missing, and I wanted to be in control of my future,” said Harold.
“I was trying to find my feet and what I was good at. People that knew me said, ‘You’re quite practical, why don’t you try construction?’ I knew plumbing was a trade that would always give you work, the money was good, and I could potentially start my own company.”
After completing a Plumbing Level 1 Diploma at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL). Over the next two years Harold went on to complete a Plumbing Level 2 Apprenticeship with Capital City College Training (CCCT).
During this time, Harold received an Excellence Award from CONEL.
“I was really excited about plumbing. It didn’t bother me that I was having to go back to college. I knew this is what I wanted to do and what I needed to do to get there,” said Harold.
“I knew I would get hands on experience and learn on the job. I didn’t want to come out with just a certificate. I also didn’t have the money to do a full-time course, but I knew I would get paid on an apprenticeship.”
During his apprenticeship, Harold worked developments including Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, South Quay Plaza building at Canary Wharf and the Elizabeth Line.
He said: “I learnt a lot on my apprenticeship about problem solving, measuring, cutting and fusing pipes, about different systems and heating units, lagging and keeping pipes at the right temperature and how to read blueprints and schematics.
“We could practice and correct mistakes with the help of our teachers. They would share their experience, but it was also down to us to ask questions and show willingness to achieve our goals.”
Harold had no regrets about doing his degree as it has helped him with running his business but in hindsight felt he should have chosen an apprenticeship sooner.
He said: “University was a good experience but if I was to start it again, I wouldn’t have gone and would have done an apprenticeship or an internship for a job I wanted to do.
“I would do an apprenticeship for any job because it gives you experience of what it’s like working in the real world. In the time it took to do my degree, I could have done my apprenticeship training and have been working in a trade.”
Harold was attracted to the variety of work plumbing offered and while he admitted it can be challenging he has also found it a fulfilling career.
“I also like the professional status that comes with it,” he said. “When people ask me what I do for a living, I’m proud to say I’m a plumber.”