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Lisa, Plumbing Apprentice

Meet Lisa, Plumbing Apprentice

Published: 8 March 2022
Filed under: Jobs, training and skills

My name’s Lisa Paul and I’m a plumbing apprentice.

It’s funny because with plumbing, you kind of do a bit of everything. It keeps it interesting. Day to day, my apprenticeship involves helping plumbers with first fix and second fix, which could be cutting pipes, soldering, and painting sometimes as well, or learning how to use tools.

I worked in the fitness industry for eight years, and one day, I thought: where do I want my career to go? I had a look at some construction videos on the internet and saw a plumbing one and thought, I’ll try that!

Apart from the variety, I especially like the intricacies of, for example, copperwork, which looks really nice afterwards: even though you may not see it, because it gets boarded up, the craftsmanship of getting a nice copper lining is incredible. You can tell when you’re looking at a piece of work if it was done with care.

I want to explore some different avenues once I finish my Level 3 Apprenticeship. Right now I’m working on commercial sites, but in a few years I’m thinking of going into servicing, helping people in their own homes. I can go abroad if I want to, like, I had a look at Australia because a lot of people from the UK are going there for work. The end goal is to run my own successful business.

I didn’t see many women in construction, but I knew I was capable of doing it, so I just went for it. You don’t have to be a man to lift things, and I know my own limitations, what I can and can’t lift. I’m very practical, so it works well: it’s almost like when I go to work, it doesn’t feel like work.

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A photo from Lisa's Instagram page

There’s a long-standing stereotype around builders which just isn’t true. People think that people you work aren’t respectful or don’t have manners, but it’s honestly not like that: on-site they’re a lot more professional than that. If anything, people I work with say they respect me a lot.

If I were trying to encourage another woman to work in construction, I’d say: do you want to get paid well to play in the mud? That’s it, really. If you know you can work with your hands, and you want to get a decent salary and a skill that you can take anywhere with you, then why not?

There’s not anything you should be afraid of when you go into it. I’ve not had a negative experience, but If I did, I’d know who to speak to, because my supervisors are great and my contractors are great. The support structure is really clear.

One thing that does need work across the industry is the work clothes - as the sector becomes more balanced there needs to be more of a push to get better female-fitting work wear, because it can be hard finding trousers or clothes that fit too well.

When you think about it, everyone needs a toilet. Everyone needs water. Plumbing is always going to be there: you can’t live without it! That’s never ever going to change. And when you look around you, how often do you see a building site? London is going to keep growing and growing.

Learning unlocks a new area in my brain, where it’s like, right, great, you’ve learned a new skill: then once I know I can physically do something, I think about the big picture: so I’m one step closer to having my business, however many years away.

Find out more

Find out more about Lisa’s progress on her Instagram account, @LPtheplumber – she says that readers can feel free to direct message her with any questions.

Waltham Forest Council connected Lisa with a Section 106 apprenticeship of her choice early in 2022. Find out more about our Construction pathways below.

Lisa is working on a key Waltham Forest Council Scheme, Juniper House. This opportunity was in part enabled due to the partnership between the Council and employers Hill and K10.