Friday, 17 July 2020


My kitchen taps came loose - for the second time - and as the Plumber lives just round the corner I asked him to slip in and tighten them for me.   This morning at around half past ten two young men turned up.   One has worked for the Plumber for several years and has been before - a nice young man.   The other was a much younger lad, maybe around seventeen, who just watched.   (Both were masked and we all three sanitised before they went).   The older of the two is no longer an apprentice, having worked for the same plumber for some years he is now fully qualified.   The younger has just begun his training to become a Plumber and is loving it.   We had a laugh because the one in charge left me a tiny spanner so that in future I could tighten them myself (this particular type is prone to working loose because of the action of turning on the tap).   He showed me how to work the thing and started to explain about which way to turn the thing.  At this point I told him he needn't explain because several years ago, when speaking about tightening and loosening my friend W said she always remembered by the phrase 'lefty loosy, righty tighty' - and this has since become my mantra.
We laughed as the younger lad blushed and said he still couldn't remember which way to turn a spanner or a screw driver so we told him to remember the phrase.

It was refreshing to see a young man going into a trade like this.   I am sure somebody will tell me why and when it stopped being the thing to take on an official Apprentice.   But it is good to see it coming back into fashion.   They used to be Indentured - not sure that that is back but looks as though it is a start.   Does anybody know.

It does call to mind my teaching life - I was teaching at the change-over from Secondary Modern to Comprehensive Education in the early seventies and was in fact appointed as a Head of Department in a new Comprehensive School which incorporated two girls' Secondary Modern and two boys' Secondary Modern.   Many of the staff at the time bemoaned the fact that subjects like Woodwork, Metalwork, Cookery (Domestic Science) and Needlework seemed to be downgraded as though they were of little importance compared with subjects which would lead to University.    And what followed was a difficulty in finding good, qualified workers in the Building Trade - joiners, electricians, bricklayers and the like.   Perhaps the wheel has turned full circle.   Perhaps somebody who has more recently been in Education can enlighten me.   After all I have now been retired since 1984.


jinxxxygirl said...

Pat i graduated high school in 1985 and my daughter graduated in 2005 so i cannot tell you much about the current school system... but i will tell you that we have an aircondition guy come and check out our aircondition and he had a young man with him that was obviously his apprentice.. maybe 15/16 years old.. I agree.. good to see. Hugs! deb

Derek Faulkner said...

Plumbing is a great business to get in to, it pays well and you are always in demand, round here they mostly charge £70 just for the call out.
Very hot and sunny here today, no proper rain forecast for the next couple of weeks. Harvesting the wheat and barley is now in full swing.

Rachel Phillips said...

It became very fashionable in the 90s and onwards for teachers to steer children into university and computer careers, whatever that meant, and away from trades which some felt were looked down upon.

maureenlthompson said...

I am glad that the youngsters are returning to the trades. We were only saying yesterday that subjects like woodwork, metal work and domestic science were the norm when we were in school and that now these subjects are no longer taught in schools. Such a shame!

the veg artist said...

Seeing older siblings and friends leave university with huge debts and no jobs seems to be making some young people think of more practical training. Thank goodness!

Mrs LH said...

My hubby works in the building trade. There's a desperate shortage of apprentices in all the trades. For some reason a lot of young people turn their noses up at it. My daughter left the University of Leeds nearly 60k in student debt (over a 4 yr course). She's an English teacher now so doesn't earn a fortune. Makes you think!!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Oh dear, as I suspected, the situation is still in a state of flux to a large extent and all those huge University debts. Makes one think.

Derek Faulkner said...

When you think of the mega thousands of new houses being built across the country every year, seems obvious to become a bricklayer, carpenter, electrician or plumber for regular/permanent work.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

In the United States, for a few years the tv show, "This Old House," has been featuring apprentices, and programs in America. Vocational schools have been around for decades as well as trade training orgrams for low income folks.

Bonnie said...

I think things are slowly changing to some degree. My youngest son went to three universities and eventually obtained a doctorate in music. He taught at a university for one year and was then laid off due to budget cuts. He now has a good job as a computer engineer but it is not the field he studied and hoped to have as his career. I am seeing more unemployed college graduates every day. My grandson just graduated from high school during which time he also attended a votech school and learned a skill in doing body work and painting cars and other vehicles. He had a good job lined up before he graduated and is in a field that has many available jobs at a very good pay rate. I think many lost interest in jobs like that along with other similar jobs and now there is a bigger need along with good pay and opportunity.

Heather said...

There is a huge demand for skilled electricians, joiners, plumbers, builders, etc. So many young people see these jobs as slightly 'inferior' and want jobs in offices or management of some kind. I don't know what the set up is now for youngsters who want to learn these skills. I think that maybe they study at college for a while then get a job learning more by watching and/or assisting a more skilled person.

Chris said...

Plumbers are among the highest paid trades people here, and rightly so. It`s a demanding job.

shadypinesqltr said...

My oldest grandson was a robotics whizkid in High School and went off to a highly rated engineering university here in Michigan. He hated it and was not allowed to take any robotics classes his first year, thereby, in his mind, falling behind in a fast moving industry. He was offered a job a few months into his first year, talked it over with his parents and left school to take the robotics job. One year later he is working hands on, learning on the job, making excellent money and saving hard.
Plumbers, electricians and welders are in short supply here and many employers are finding it hard to convince young people to learn a trade. However, I heard that many slots are being filled by women! Yeah!

Margie from Toronto said...

Trying to get a decent plumber or electrician over here is like digging for gold! They are in such high demand that they are some of the highest paid individuals around. The government has been so worried bout not having enough skilled trades people that there have been a lot of commercials lately aimed at attracting women to these trades!

Joanne Noragon said...

We need more apprentice programs. I hope it happens.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

It is a good trade to be in. Someone as clumsy as me could never do it

Red said...

You're right on with consideration of kids who have ability in different areas. There are many different college courses from the time I attended.

Cro Magnon said...

This was the good side of the Secondary Modern and Grammar school system. Those who were more academically minded went on to learn the classics, whilst those who wanted a trade could learn the rudiments before finding a job. It worked well, and really should be reintroduced. Someone who wishes to become a plumber (and earn good money) has little use for the dates of Bannockburn or a list of monarchs (unless he is particularly interested).

thelma said...

I am still waiting for my plumber to come and finish the job, but I think I would rather be a plumber than a city broker. Coincidentally, the term "lefty loosey, righty tighty" the second time in one day I have seen it, funny that.

Rachel Phillips said...

Knowing how many times you have said here you are not practical at all I was expecting you to say that the leaving of a spanner with you freaked you out.

Librarian said...

You say that all three of you sanitised before they left - shouldn't they have done that upon entering your house? (They probably did, just making sure.)
Anyway, apprenticeship is THE strong pillar of our economy here in Germany, it has never truly gone out of fashion. Many companies have apprentices, but they say it becomes more and more difficult to find youths willing to start to work after school - many are either looking at university and a career that is not hands-on, while others who can not make it to uni leave school hardly literate enough to start an apprenticeship.
My sister's neighbour have a daughter who has started last year as an apprentice to a carpenter. She's loving it, and that is how it should be. There is certainly room in our economic systems for all of it - uni and desk or lab jobs as well as trades and craft, and let's not forget those badly needed hands in the health and care sector.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Interesting points you make Librarian. Yes, of course we all sanitised both before and after and I went round the door handles after they went and the work surfaces round the sink.
This young man was loving it too.

Rachel - the 'freaking out' as you put it will happen when the taps come loose again.

Thanks - valuable points you all make.

Tom Stephenson said...

Apprentices were a big commitment by the employer and quite often the apprentice's parents would have to pay for their son to train (it was always sons in those days). Being indentured was a guarantee that the apprentice wouldn't get qualified and then run off to work for someone else. When the Youth Opportunities Programme was dreamed up (remember YOPs?) that was a nail in the apprentices' coffin. When you could get unskilled labour for free, why pay? Due to you-know-what, I think apprenticeships will come back. There is a surviving medieval system in Germany for carpenters who are called 'Zimmermen'. After they have qualified, they are not allowed to work within a certain amount of miles (50?) of the place they were trained, so they wander the country - and sometimes the world - wearing black corduroy suits with bell-bottom trousers and pearl buttons, and huge, wide-brimmed black hats. They are not allowed to drive cars or take public transport, so they hitch-hike between job to job. Amazing.

Sue said...

For years I never knew which way to turn things and then I heard about lefty loosy and righty tighty. Such a helpful little phrase.

Librarian said...

Hello Tom, the Zimmermen you mention are still a relatively familiar sight in Germany, although they are becoming rarer. I didn't know they are not supposed to use public transport (I wonder why not), and I am pretty sure I have seen one on a train more than once during my frequent train trips. Interesting to see that the Zimmermann system is known outside Germany, too!

A Smaller Life said...

A few years ago my younger son told me he always uses the 'lefty loosey, righty tighty' mantra to help him when doing DIY, and since he mentioned it I can't undo or put in a screw without saying it ... even though I used to do so very well for years without even knowing about 'lefty loosey'.

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