RISING STAR FINALIST
Name: Ryan Boyle
Please provide at least one example of a problem that you have encountered on-the-job and how you worked with your employer to overcome it:
I’ve managed a variety of situations during my apprenticeship, this has been from leaking toilets to issues with radiators. But, one key example is when five of us had to do a full installation of a 62-room care home. This required lots of different installations but one of the major ones was that underfloor heating had to be installed throughout the care home. This resulted in me needing to use lots of different skills learnt on my apprenticeship to tackle the job effectively. It was a huge task as there was no infrastructure already there to upgrade meaning we had to start right at the basics and work our way up. It took a lot of time and dedication with different techniques but eventually we managed to do a full renovation of the property.
This job also required me to use skills most installers in the industry don’t have at my level – due to the nature of installing underfloor heating. I believe this distinguishes me from others with the same amount of experience as myself.
Please provide at least one example of when you have gone the extra mile and/or shown outstanding commitment during your apprenticeship:
I was a professional rugby player from the ages of 17-29. With rugby being a very physical and high-contact sport, I suffered a lot of injuries and have had to have several reconstruction surgeries on my knees and wrists, which has left me in near constant pain. This has completely impacted the way that I can do my job and I have to either work out how I can do it with the pain or push through the pain to get the job done.
Also, when my contract with a professional rugby team came to an unexpected end, I had to find something else which was going to pay the bills. It took a lot of courage and dedication on my part to retrain in a career which would be able to provide for my growing family. Also, I needed the courage to go and join a classroom of people who were significantly younger than me. With all this in mind, I refuse to fail and work above and beyond to pass every element of my apprenticeship.
I also have shown a lot of commitment to my employer by driving over an hour each day to attend my job for the last two years. I work all over Yorkshire and will never refuse a job – no matter where it’s based.
Any finally, what do you think are three important qualities of a good heating installer and how have you demonstrated these qualities during the initial stages of your career?
I think the following three qualities are important for a good heating installer:
Name: Ryan Carlton
In my short time as an apprentice, I’ve encountered many problems and issues along the way as two years ago; I knew absolutely nothing about plumbing. I’d say the most challenging issue I’ve faced is an underground water main burst at a school. The school contacted our company after they received a bizarrely high water bill. Further investigation into the matter found that the water meter was spinning relentlessly – even after everyone had gone home for the day. Identifying that it was a main burst was easy, finding it was not. For a start, there were two stop taps. One was to the old section of the school, and one was for the newer extension that was added. We searched high and low around the schools grounds with no schematics or plans showing any of the pipes routes. We found numerous voids under the floor of which we were certain the pipes would run, but it came to no avail. After two entire days of scratching our heads, thoroughly scrutinising areas we’d already searched three times over, we found an old storeroom with three pipe drops in the corner. Two were the heating flow and return. The other was a cold feed, stone cold to touch – almost like ice. My colleague placed his screwdriver onto the pipe, feeling and hearing the vibration of the water gushing through as I went outside and turned both stop taps off one at a time. We found the leak, finally. We discovered that the cold main ran down the wall, underneath the schools wooden hall flooring and raising the opposite side to carry the demand for water to the other side of the school. We ended up cutting and capping both pipes before they entered the floor, connecting them together above the ceiling tiles instead. It was a lengthy job of confusion, second guessing ourselves and utter bewilderment. I guess it taught me to just keep trying, to keep looking, to keep pushing myself further as the issue is definitely there – it’s staring us in the face. Even when everything seems against you, just think from a different point of view, explore every little nook and cranny to achieve what needs to be done and just not give up when it gets a little tough. It was very draining, tiring and demanding, but the elation when we discovered which pipe was leaking filled us with a new lease of life and drive to pick ourselves up and get the job finished.
During my first year of college, I really knuckled down and pushed myself to learn as much as I could possibly remember. I scored high marks in every exam that I was put through – so much so that I was offered the chance to fast track my first year (completing two years’ worth of work in one). I successfully managed to achieve everything I wanted to within the first year, even surpassing my own personal targets that I’d set myself. I was chosen by my tutors, to represent both my employer and the college at two pipe bending competitions. One was in Newcastle and the other in Stoke. It was a whole different ball game, having to achieve bends and angles that I’d only recently been managing to assemble accurately to specific measurements. I didn’t win, but I did myself proud and exceeded my expectations. I was nominated for Plumbing and Heating Apprentice of the Year at the Grimsby Institute, alongside a number of very good plumbers. To my surprise, I ended up winning the award with some of my family members there to witness my accomplishment. To top my year of college off, I was nominated for the CIPHE Student of the Year award. I was invited to a black-tie dinner, finished off by an acknowledgement of my achievements and managed to scoop the award for the Grimsby/Lincolnshire area. 2019 was definitely a fantastic year for me.
I think there are many attributes and traits a plumber must have to make them a good all-rounder. From the moment I was gifted the opportunity of an apprenticeship I have taken everything in my stride but you never, ever stop learning. Communication is a massive aspect of our job, no matter whether we’re doing something on a small domestic scale, or a commercial size. I have always backed myself at being a good communicator, the ability to not only speak but to also listen to a customer’s desire or plan is essential. When first starting out with the company, I was introduced into a set of three established plumbers to fit entire new heating systems into council housing. Whenever we came across an issue or fault with our plan of attack, I would be the one to engage with the customer and work out a suitable alternative in order to achieve the outcome needed. Another essential quality I think is necessary is patience. I am a very calm individual and I rarely get stressed. I remain thankful for this unique characteristic, as I don’t let problems or issues beat me. It’s far too easy to get annoyed or irate at certain situations – especially if a job is rather awkward to access or you’re struggling to complete something that’s rather simple, but you’re finding a bit more troublesome. I find my temperament doesn’t allow me to get stressed with my job, I just keep on chipping away at the task in hand and eventually I get somewhere where I want to be. The third quality on my list is problem solving. It’s a huge part of our learning, yet each job is always different from the last. I think it all comes down to experience though. To be able to be presented with a challenge or predicament, to assess the situation as quickly as possible and evaluate all options within a matter of minutes in an attempt to resolve the matter at hand is a gift that is taken for granted. I am quite a creative individual, so I think this helps with certain tasks – to make certain decisions in order to find a conclusion but it’s still something within my skill set that needs to be developed a considerable amount.
Name: Samantha Older
Please provide at least one example of a problem that you have encountered on-the-job and how you worked with your employee to overcome it: please speak with applicant
I attended a breakdown at a property to find that the flue collector ( a boiler part) was split causing carbon monoxide to be released into the boiler . This boiler should have been shut off and booked in to have the part changed. However, my colleague and I travelled to Gillingham from Leysdown to collect the part. Excluding travelling time, it took over 3hrs to fix and recommission the boiler. It was worth it, knowing that you have prevented the customer from being without heating or hot water. We then continued with the rest of our day’s allocated work. We continued to attend to all customers assigned to my colleague and I into out of work hours.
Please provide at least one example of have you gone the extra mile and/or shown outstanding commitment during your apprenticeship. Please note: working additional hours to get a job done will not qualify: please speak with applicant
Recently I have completed my level 2 Nvq in Plumbing. I have shown resolute commitment by finishing my 2 year course in under one year. I discussed with my tutors to ensure that I had the best resources for revision and I arranged with my practical tutor to come in during the holidays so I could complete major sections of my practical portfolio.
What do you think are three important qualities of a good heating installer and how have you demonstrated these qualities during the initial stages of your career: please speak with applicant
Reflective listener , I have proven that I am a reflective listener by showing customers how to use their heating controls to suit their needs and also how to correctly top up their system pressure to prevent future breakdowns.
Approachable , I have demonstrated that I am approachable beacause customers have left complementary reviews online about the services they have recieved from me.
Teamwork , I have shown that I work well in a team . I am punctual , I get on well with the other engineers in my company. I have also worked with employees from external companies such as Optivo Housing to gain access to their properties, in order to complete gas services on appliances which were overdue.
Name: Paul Palmer
I recently had a job where I had to unblock a bath. There was no access as everything was tiled over, so firslty I had to gain access. Then I had to try and unclog the plug but my rods were too big. I was resourceful and used a metal hanger then ran the hot and water taps to ensure it was unclogged. The customer was really pleased with my work and have since asked me about three more jobs.
I’ve gone the extra mile by putting myself out there in the industry, speaking with other plumbers on Twitter, attending a lot of events – such as PHEX, calling around all the companies I can for experience and advice, practicing techniques in my spare time and using my initiative to source every opportunity I can. I even bought myself a set of new tools, so that I could practice in my free time, turning my garage into a mini-plumbing area.
I have spoken with other plumbers in the industry at events to learn more and get their advice. I’ve also taken up training opportunities with the likes of Ideal Ian, after speaking with him on Twitter. I met Ian at PHEX and asked for his advice and guidance. From there, he signed me up for a boiler course to further my training and experience. Also, I met with the team from Flow Master at PHEX and took on the opportunity to practice plumbing on a toilet – from this I will be given tools from Flow Master for my hard work and commitment to my learning.
I’m carrying out all this practice in my free time and using all the opportunities I can to go above and beyond my day-to-day learning on the course. I want to gain all the experience I can to make me the best I can be in my job.
Communication – It’s essential to communicate with not only the people that you’re working on the job with but, also the client. They need to be aware of what you’re doing and how long it is going to take so that they know when the job will be done. Also, by communicating with your team, it means that the work will be completed efficiently and to the best standard meaning a happy team and customer satisfaction. I’ve shown examples of this during my apprenticeship when speaking to my customer. On a recent job my customer was like a parrot, constantly stood looking over your shoulder! I made sure I talked them through everything I was doing so that they understood and felt happy with the service. They definitely did, as they’ve asked me to come back for more work!
Clean work – It’s important to keep the work station clean when conducting a job. By doing so it means that there’s less likely to be an accident while the work is taking place and also, means you can do the work more efficiently as everything is where it needs to be and is organised.
During my apprenticeship I’ve shown this by taking a pack of big wipes with me everywhere I go. On one job recently, I didn’t make any mess but I still used the big wipes after and so the bathroom ended up being cleaner when I left than when I started!
Safety – The most important thing for a heating installer to be is safe. It’s essential that on any job you do that safety is the number one priority. By being conscious of this it means that it will keep the installer safe of the job, in the first instance, and also means the customer will get a safe and reliable service/product in the long term. I’ve demonstrated safety as my number one priority on all jobs I have worked on during my apprenticeship. I’ve done this by adapting to whatever situation I’m put into. For example, recently I was doing a job that required me to get into the bath. I dried it out so that it wasn’t wet, and then took my shoes off so that I didn’t slip. I then made sure I only had one tool in the bath with me at any given time, to make sure I wasn’t tripping over anything.
Name: Brian Somers
We normally find when replacing boilers and radiators, that the existing feed and return pipework is acceptable as long as it is flushed out. On one occasion we found the pipework to be corroded and as a result we had to lift all the floors in the house and replace it with new pipework. This meant a lot of additional work on this particular job but we knew that it was the right thing to do so that long term the customer would have a trouble free system.
In three years I’ve never missed a day of work, even when I’m ill and have a cold, I still turn up to work. Employer said “He refuses to stay at home, he always turns up and if we have to work longer to get the job done, even when it’s until 10 O’Clock he never complains.”
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