Damien Murphy is a plumbing apprentice with Fusion Heating, working solely on the Helm Housing Association Contract.
Helm Housing’s maintenance contracts now include a number of social clauses which require suppliers to provide training apprenticeships. So far, 14 apprentices have been employed through Fusion Heating and H&J Martin. We spoke to Damien to get an idea of what it is like to be one of these apprentices.
1. Before starting your apprenticeship, what did you do?
Before starting this apprenticeship, I completed a degree in Sports Technology at Ulster University’s Jordanstown Campus.
2. What interested you in becoming a plumbing apprentice?
Plumbing was always something I’ve wanted to do. My father encouraged me to take it up because it’s good trade to have, but I wanted to go to University first. When I graduated I realised I wanted to do something more hands-on and physical so I decided to apply to be a plumbing apprentice.
3. How long have you worked in this role?
I started in September 2014 so I am still in my first year as an apprentice.
4. What is a typical day like for you?
On the three days that I’m not in college, I am usually on site at one of Helm Housing Association’s developments. We can be called out to jobs anywhere across Northern Ireland where Helm Housing properties are located, so it can often be an early start. Helm has over 15,000 tenants in over 5,700 properties so we’ve a lot of ground to cover! That’s one of the perks of the job – you get to see lots of new places all the time. Work consists of anything between boiler replacements, repairing heating system faults and general maintenance for tenants of these properties.
5. What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is how hands-on it is, even though I am just a first year apprentice. Fusion Heating have encouraged me to get stuck in from the start. Thanks to the work we do with Helm Housing there are plenty of opportunities for me to practice my trade and learn new skills. Most of the apprentices I go to college with only get to watch from the sidelines whereas this role means I gain direct hands-on experience.
6. What advice would you give to other young people thinking about getting involved in apprenticeships like this?
The most important thing to understand is that you’re never too old to get involved in apprenticeships like this. I’m 23 which means I’m a mature student as far as apprenticeships go. Thankfully, Fusion Heating gave me the opportunity to join their team and Helm Housing have provided a range of work for me through their commitment to delivering apprentice opportunities.