Female Plumbers: Shaping the Industry
(Left) Jade Winter, (middle) Nikita Ward, and (right) Phoebe Coers all competed in the 2016 WorldSkills New Zealand National Competition
Plumbers are never short of a job in NZ, and as these three young women have proven it, you don’t need to be male to succeed.
21-year-old plumber Jade Winter won the lower North Island WorldSkills Regional Competition and was awarded bronze medal in plumbing and gasfitting in the 2016 WorldSkills National Competition.
According to her, she picked up the trade half way through her final year of school when she saw an advertisement for an apprenticeship.
“I was really over school and told [my boss] I would work for him for free,” she discloses.
Jade then went on to full-time work and eventually started her apprenticeship and had been working with Pettersson Plumbing in Feilding.
“It’s a pretty male-dominated job, and they’re all good,” she admits but adds that when some of her peers give her a hard time, she gives it straight back.
Nikita Ward, for her part, was immediately snapped up a year ago by Hutt Gas and Plumbing in Wellington upon her employment referral.
General Manager Colleen Upton says, “Nikita was very impressive and I am sure she will fit in here very well. She interviewed well and seems very passionate about the trades, we signed her up to a plumbing and gasfitting apprenticeship.”
Upton put her out on a domestic cycle assisting with gasfitting and domestic plumbing last year and moved her out to commercial for a time.
She stresses that “Female tradespeople are a big hit with domestic customers. We have had some great students from WelTec – in fact I think the majority of apprentices we have employed are from the pre-trade courses.”
Nikita, who turns 22 this month, shares that a lot of people get a surprise when she says she’s a plumber or when she shows up as an apprentice plumber. “They aren’t really expecting it.”
“I’m really enjoying getting on the tools and not just watching. I am also enjoying the amount of things I am learning each day,” she says.
As for Phoebe Coers, she actually wanted to be a pro mountain biker when she was little. A year ago, at age 20, the became an apprentice plumber.
She shares that when she was younger, she had no idea what she wanted to do. It was her dad who suggested she get a qualification, instead of pursuing a mountain biking career.
Having a practical bent and work experience sold Phoebe on plumbing. “I’ve never looked back, really,” she states.
Foley Plumbers in Dunedin, her employer, pay the costs of her apprenticeship. “I think it’s a pretty good deal.”
Taking joy in the work she does, Phoebe says, “Because of the trust needed on the job, workers get to know each other well and it’s like working with your mates.”