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Through the eyes of an apprentice – interview with Chris Alavi

Post National Apprenticeship Week (6th -10th February 2012) we asked Chris Alavi, a plumbing and heating engineer apprentice about his experiences as a trainee. Chris is working as an apprentice for one of our 5 star rated tradesmen Gareth Butcher, who runs GB Plumbing & Heating.

1. Why did you decide to become an apprentice?

I decided to become an apprenitice at the age of 20 – later than usual – because I saw the importance of the roles that tradesmen play in everyone’s everyday lives. For example, at some point a tradesman will provide for every household, whether it be roofing or hot water and heating.

Chris onsite at a heating job in North London

I also saw the importance of gaining my own trade and skills to benefit my future as a homeowner, so I decided to find an apprenticeship and an opportunity for a great career.

2. How did you find a job as an apprentice?

I found my job by mentioning my interest in plumbing and heating to my good friend Gareth Butcher  – the owner of GB Plumbing & Heating, a member of – who I now work for. I was in a beneficial position already knowing someone in a trade.

3. Why did you choose plumbing/heating as a trade?

Plumbing and heating was my desired trade for the simple reason that everybody uses and needs hot water, and in a country as cold as England central heating is also widely demanded. I therefore wanted to gain the knowledge of the domestic hot water and heating systems and be in a good position to provide and install these systems to customers.

4. What are the best and worst parts about being an apprentice?

The best parts about being an apprentice are that:

a. I’m earning money whilst learning a very important skill/trade

b. I work with a friend, so everyday work is always enjoyable

c. If you (like me) have a keen interest in the trade you are in, being an apprentice makes everyday an interesting and priceless experience

Chris with his employer and good friend Gareth

The worst parts are:

a. The stigma attached to apprentices can be irritating e.g., a stereotypical apprentice would be pictured as young and lazy

b. Apprentices are also overlooked a lot of the time in the roles they actually play

But, other than that, being an apprentice is great!

5. How long does it take to train as an apprentice?

The duration of an apprenticeship is hard to determine as it depends on many factors such as: your role as an apprentice, the workload you have (busier tradesmen’s apprentices gain more experience week-in-week-out, due to the greater workload), and the trade itself determines the duration of your apprenticeship.

However, the single most important factor influencing the apprenticeship is the individual apprentice him/herself  e.g., their willingness to work hard and learn their trade and of course their own abilities.

6. How would you recommend someone finds a job as an apprentice?

I would recommend starting by asking people they know – if they know anyone in a trade. Maybe by calling tradesmen up themselves and asking if apprentices are needed. Another way of finding an apprenticeship could be by approaching a tradesman working in your local area, or even in your house and ask if they would give you an opportunity to prove yourself as an apprentice.

An interview with Chris Alavi (the future’s greatest heating engineer).

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