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Joseph Little - Plumbing Apprentice for South Tyneside Homes Case Study

Upon leaving school, I chose to join sixth form, with the aim of studying digital media.   I soon realised this learning environment wasn't for me but felt I'd matured and wanted to be out in the working world.

When I saw the apprenticeship opportunities at South Tyneside Homes I decided I would apply, hoping to get a trade apprenticeship so that I could learn whilst being kept busy and building a career.

Joseph with his trophy

Joseph with his trophy

Following successful recruitment as an apprentice plumber in September 2017, I was advised that the company wanted to develop more plumbers to eventually take over from its ageing workforce. My post was to assist in the plumbing repair and replacement works in housing stock that South Tyneside Homes managed on behalf of South Tyneside Council.

The company requested that I gained plumbing experience in several departments (Planned Replacement Works, Responsive Repair and work to vacant dwellings). This required me to get involved in plumbing works from replacing a tap washer to installing a new bathroom suite replacement.

I initially worked for the Decent Home Team fitting kitchens and bathrooms, where I had to learn quick and complete work to deadlines at a good standard. I also gained experience identifying problems and how to repair them while working for the Repairs Team. 

I have achieved the following:-

  • Successfully completed exams, built positive relationships with college tutors who often highlight my work
  • Installed a full drainage system (including guttering, soil/waste outlet etc.)
  • Built good reputations with surveyors, team leaders and colleagues, who often ask me to look at problems and suggest ways around them e.g. a variation to our sinks, where I suggested lowering height and I altered taps. This saved units being removed
  • I have learnt to communicate well with other teams, keeping them informed if I discover leaks etc. that could impact on their work
  • I am trusted to work independently and cover for other plumbers
  • At short notice I was invited to carry out a large complex commercial job in the town hall, fitting a kitchen and connecting it to a commercial gas fitting
  • I have built positive relationships with customers and have received praise.   For example, at one job I established the suggested layout for a bathroom would not allow wheelchair access and recommended a different layout
  • I have a good relationship with my managers, team leaders and colleagues and I often help by staying back late to deal with unexpected problem on-site
  • I am a young ambassador and have represented STH at several apprenticeship events
  • I am relied upon to offer advice to my team leaders and other trade teams on how we overcome problems
  • I am trusted to drive company vehicles, as well as cover for other plumbers when they are off

In return the company is investing in me and is putting me through my Gas & Appliances NVQ Level 3.  

In 2020 I was nominated and crowned Advanced Apprentice of the Year winner at the Regional Apprenticeship Awards. I didn't expect to be nominated for the award, much less to be shortlisted and then go on to win! I was really pleased and proud, especially given the number of apprentices that were nominated across the region.

I really enjoy my role at work, getting to try lots of different aspects and feel that I get a lot of support from the company.

An apprenticeship has been a great route for me and I have really enjoyed it.  I would recommend it to others who want to work and earn, while gaining a qualification.