apprentice plumber tiling in a bathroom

Getting to know Kaylee, Apprentice Plumber

The hardest thing about being a plumbing apprentice has actually been convincing myself that I am in in the right place. My college course is just lads. My team at the moment is just men. At first I felt quite a lot of pressure to prove myself. But gradually I’ve realised that the pressure is actually only coming from me!

Because Sovereign is a big organisation it’s really striving to bring more women into trades roles. I first had the thought that I might want to work in trades when I was about 16, but I was put off by the fact that the courses didn’t even seem to recognise that girls might want to take part. I didn’t know any women in trades. So I started studying a qualification in Public and Emergency Services with a view to joining the police.

But it kept niggling at me that I wanted a job where I would see results – to be able to fix something or fit something and know “I did that”. My dad actually works as a kitchen-fitter for Sovereign and eventually he suggested that I might want to have a chat with some of the trades teams.

So I talked to some of the female members of the team and decided I could do it. My mum was very surprised to start off with when I told her I was applying for a plumbing apprenticeship– because I’d wanted to go down police route for so long. I did a few little jobs for her she started to see the benefits and how much happier I was in my new role. I can honestly say I like going to work – I like my job. I get up in the morning and want to go in, I don’t think many people find that.

I feel like this is where I am supposed to be – I feel comfortable. I like my team, we get on really well – we have a laugh and a chat. I’ve really enjoyed moving around all the different types of job, absorbing the way that different people work. For example, one mentor might favour welding a copper pipe with a blow-torch and solder, where another might use plastic push fit.. Both methods work, it’s not to say one is better than the other - and it’s useful for me to have knowledge of more than one solution.

I’ve felt very welcome at Sovereign - they want everyone to have a go and I think the size of the organisation absorbs any awkwardness. I’ve had nothing but positives both from residents and colleagues.

This apprenticeship is bringing me real opportunities too – at college, they’re looking for people to go out to Africa and plumb in a toilet facilities in a school. I was supposed to be going on this trip in 2020 but it got cancelled due to the pandemic. I’m hoping that once everything settles I’ll be able to go, which should be in the next couple of years.

During the pandemic I found it hard to do college work and portfolio work but I was supported by my manager and colleagues.

Sovereign also set me up with my own van which made me feel independent and safe.

I can now confidently fit a bathroom myself along with other plumbing tasks, I’m two years into my four year apprenticeship and I am very happy with where I am.

I look forward to the day I can officially say that I am a fully qualified plumber!