Byde Heating & Plumbing Ltd.

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Article reproduced from The Sunday Times featuring Vince Byde of Byde Heating & Plumbing Ltd. "Aftershock" By Andrew Taylor. April 2, 2006.

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Plumbing the depths

There are courses in plumbing, and other building trades, at colleges all over the country. Some are full-time, others part-time or evening classes. But wherever you go, it’s essential to check out what qualifications you’ll end up with: the Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers has details of the different levels of training it’s possible to take, as well as contacts for advice on specific training courses. They too, incidentally, say you should forget the stories you read about plumbers making £70,000 to £120,000 a year: if you work for a company, you can expect to be on around £25,000 after a couple of years. How much you earn if you’re self-employed depends on how much effort you put into the business – and when I asked Vince if we were going to stop for lunch in a pub, he looked at me as if I’d just suggested a trip to a lap-dancing bar. Lunch is a sandwich on the way to the next job, if you’re lucky.

Lunch is a sandwich on the way to the next job, if you’re lucky.

John’s experience has been that his own course was split about 50-50 between school leavers and people of around his own age, which is encouraging. I rather doubt that they would have anything quite basic enough for my level of incompetence – although I did have a brief moment at the end of my first day as a plumber when I thought that there might be a new career opening up for me.

As I got out of the van, Vince stopped me. “If you ever think of taking up plumbing ….” he said, and my heart leapt. He was going to offer to take me on. I must have shown skills that I didn’t know I had, even when I’d managed to soak him. There is no Andrex puppy as pathetic as a man who’s told he’s good at something he never dreamed he could manage.

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