It's never too late to start an apprenticeship

Published:  21 January, 2014

A former call centre worker has used an apprenticeship scheme as the springboard to a new career in the plumbing industry.

Jill Cormack worked in a variety of administration and customer services roles before making a radical career change and taking up a four-year apprenticeship run by Gateshead College.

The 26-year-old is now working towards a nationally recognised Level 2 plumbing qualification and is employed by West Boldon-based TW Plumbing & Heating.

The apprenticeship combines theory and practical activities, with Ms Cormack spending one day a week at Gateshead College and four at TW Plumbing. It has given her specific industry knowledge of the latest plumbing techniques and technologies, as well as transferable skills such as the ability to work as part of an effective team and deal with difficult customers.

“The apprenticeship has given me a good grounding within the industry, as well as some really useful life skills that I can apply in and outside of the workplace,” said Ms Cormack.

“I’m the only female plumber at the company but I feel comfortable working in a traditionally male-dominated environment.”

Martin Whitehead, director at TW Plumbing & Heating, said: “Jill started with us in March and has made an excellent first impression. We need to fast-track more young talent into our industry to prevent a skills shortage when older skilled workers retire. Our partnership with Gateshead College gives us every chance of achieving this and it’s great to work with an education provider that truly understands our needs.”