By John Son
Sean Stephens knows a thing or two about what makes tradies succeed. After all, he’s been taking on apprentices for more than 25 years!
Sean is the managing director at Plumbcraft, which offers plumbing, gasfitting, and drainlaying services. He left school at age 15, was a qualified plumber by 18, and went on to set up his own company.
He’s got a great team of apprentices on board, and is passionate about helping them grow their skills and careers.
We sat down with him to pick his brains about what it means to ‘Get a Trade’ and ‘Get it Made’!
Tell us about how you got started in the trades. What made you choose plumbing over other trades?
There was a number of things from my childhood. My old man was a stainless pipe fitter and we also had a family friend who was a drainlayer. I worked with both of them when I was a kid and liked what they did, so decided that I wanted to get into plumbing and drainage.
Why is it a good idea to do an apprenticeship?
You will have the opportunity to earn a good income from early age without a massive student debt. And in the time I’ve been in the trade, I have seen many jobs that needed a university education become redundant to technology. Ours hasn’t!
What do you look for when taking on an apprentice?
A good work ethic, commitment, and a genuine interest in the trade, not just the end wage.
You’ve been taking on apprentices since 1991. Above all, what’s the one quality that apprentices need to succeed?
Commitment. Even on the bad days, they must be able to get up, turn up on time, and work on through it.
Can you give us an example of something one of your apprentices did that really impressed you?
One of our boys went three and a half years before he had a sick day. The same guy has always shown commitment to his trade and the company. We’re rewarding him by training him for a bigger role in the company in the future.
If I’m currently at school and thinking about doing an apprenticeship afterwards, what should I be doing now to prepare?
If you don’t already have one, get an after-school job. Your future employer will see that you have stuck at something and that you know the basics expected from an employee.
Any last words of advice for potential apprentices?
Knuckle down. Put everything you have into those apprentice years at the beginning and get your qualifications. It’s an investment that will keep paying you for the rest of your life.
Got a Trade Week is coming up (21 - 27 August). This is an awesome opportunity to learn about what it's like working in a trade, and where your career can take you. To find out more, visit the Got a Trade? Got it Made! website.