Bending pipes, saving water and breaking down gender barriers – it’s all systems go for World Plumbing Day. Gemma Wardle swaps her pen for a plunger to discover the world of plumbing at Highbury College.
Today is World Plumbing Day and students at Highbury College are busy learning the tricks of the trade and promoting all things pipe-tastic!
Grace Eveleigh stands out from her peers as she is the only female student at the Northarbour Centre, Portsmouth. The 23 year old from Waterlooville thought the course would give her the best opportunities in the future. And she’s winning!
Grace said: “At first I was nervous because it is a very male dominated industry and I thought that I might not have the confidence.
“If you want to do it and you’re interested in it then, just go for it!”
Challenging gender stereotypes, Grace talked about situations where women don’t want a man working in the house whilst home alone.
“There is a big gap in the industry for women where women are needed specifically.
“That will be quite an advantage when I try and start a business, that I will have that niche.
“It’s just not expected of you but it is the best decision I’ve made so I’m glad I did it. In 10 years’ time I would like to be working for myself and having my own business.”
The international event which was initiated by the World Plumbing Council aims to bring people together to promote high quality plumbing, sustainability and environmental health.
Lecturer and plumbing instructor Andy Morris is excited that the interest in World Plumbing Day is increasing.
He said: “The day is a showcase for the industry, plumbing’s still a very relevant trade.”
World plumbing Day raises awareness of the need to use resources more sustainably.
Andy added: “We’ve got to save the world’s resources.
“You can take water from a basin, a bath or a shower and use that to flush your toilet. Now everyone’s on a metered supply, they’re saving water.”
The growing population is increasing demand on an ever shorter water supply. World plumbing day promotes the importance the industry has on providing safe, clean drinking water.
Andy added: “If you catch all the rain water off your roof and use that to water your garden or wash your car, you’re saving a few hundred litres a year just on water.”
Andy teaches students on both full and part-time courses to work to the high standards of the industry.
“Probably 80% of our students go into employment. The market is still buoyant, there are a lot of housing developments so students can transfer into the workplace and become apprentices.”
He added: “It is all about working in people’s houses. Learning the skill levels of plastic, copper, and steel.
“The students get to practice and improve. They also peer assess and self-assess their work.
“All the assessments are timed and have a certain amount of material and pipe and they will be pressure tested to industry standard.
“What we want is that raise from Level 2 to Level 3 so that we actually get a higher expectation of the tradesperson. That will benefit the customer and benefit the industry.
“It still is a tough course. Their heart’s got to be in it.
“It is just a learning curve, if you were bending copper pipe all day – you would just get better and better!”
The role of the World Plumbing Council is to “promote the role of plumbing in improving public health and safeguarding the environment, by uniting the World Plumbing Industry, for the benefit of all.”
Student Jackson Taylor, 30, hopes World plumbing Day brings everyone together.
“World plumbing day is important because it brings the plumbing community together and lets everyone share their ideas.
“I think renewable sources in the trade is important because we are going to the age where everything is trying to save energy and it is good for the environment.”
Jackson explained that solar panels, updated heating systems, harvesting rain water are good examples of trying to be more sustainable with the world’s energy sources.
He added: “With the global warming pandemic at the moment, everyone wants to have renewable energy.”
Jackson is an employer’s apprentice and recommends this route into plumbing.
“I personally got involved in the plumbing course is because I love plumbing!
“Hopefully in 10 years’ time I’m hoping to have my own company, who knows where the future will take me!”
The college offers taster sessions to anyone interested in joining the trade. Student Brandon Page started the course because of one.
The 16 year old, originally from Desborough in Northamptonshire said: “It’s something that I’m passionate about now.
“I went to the testing day and I found it quite interesting. If you like getting your hands greasy and dirty, then try it!”
Students are preparing for World Plumbing Day by focusing on their projects to improve their skills.
Student Harrison Frampton said he enjoys the course’s variety.
The 17 year old from Waterlooville said: ““I like putting things together. Seeing how it works, the different types of pipes you can get and what you can make out of nothing.
“I quite like bending pipes, that’s fun! Getting a straight bit of pipe and bending and turning it how you want to fit whatever you need.
“It’s important to have a plan so you don’t mess up and waste a bunch of material.”
There you have it! So the next time you turn the tap on or switch the heating up, remember World Plumbing Day and the amazing technology in the walls of our very homes.