Tom Coatham joined Vic Coupland as an apprentice in August 2019. We had a chat with him about his experience working at Vic Coupland. 

What kind of apprenticeship are you taking? 

It’s a Level 3 Plumbing and Heating qualification through JTL Training Centre in Hull, with my aim being to become a full-time plumbing and gas engineer. The coronavirus pandemic set everything back a bit but everything is now back in full flow. 

Did you always want to enter this profession? 

I always considered taking an apprenticeship when I was at school, as university didn’t appeal to me. Nothing really stood out to me though, so I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, although I had a feeling that something related to engineering would be interesting. 
After leaving Wolfreton School, I first studied another apprenticeship in CNC machining. Unfortunately, I found it quite dull and repetitive, so I soon realised it wasn’t for me. At the time I was in a band and a couple of the other lads were plumbers. They knew I wasn’t enjoying that first apprenticeship and recommended I look into plumbing. This sounded like a good idea, as I could see myself having a job where I needed to be out and about. I did some research but still wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for. 
It was then that my mum showed me an ad on Facebook for apprenticeships at Vic Coupland. I thought “What have I got to lose?”, so I sent in my CV and cover letter, had an informal chat, was offered a role, and here I am four years on! 

What does your apprenticeship involve? 

After the first two years, I qualified as a plumber. The following two years focus on the more technical side, with the final year being purely about gas installations, repairs, and maintenance. My apprenticeship enables me to work with the Gas Safe qualified engineers here at Vic Coupland, which means I get to tap into their knowledge and gain fantastic hands-on experience every day. 
I’ve been doing a lot of maintenance jobs, such as fixing leaks in schools and carrying out TMV (thermostatic mixing valve) testing for the NHS so that the water remains at a safe temperature. 

What does a typical day look like for you? 

To be honest there isn’t really a typical day. It’s a very varied role and the jobs aren’t just in Hull, as I’ve also worked across East Yorkshire as well as in Leeds, York, Scarborough, Northampton, and many other towns and cities. I recently visited an NHS site to strip out the existing fixtures of a double en suite. A new shower, toilet 
and basin were then installed in one room while the other was turned into a new space for other applications. 
Every day is different, although currently, Tuesdays are very consistent because that’s when I study gas training at the college. It’s theory in the morning and then practical in the afternoon, so it’s a really good balance. 

Would you recommend an apprenticeship at Vic Coupland? 

Absolutely! One of the great things about this apprenticeship with Vic Coupland is that I get to work on both domestic and commercial projects. This means I can work in schools, healthcare facilities, factories, and anywhere else where my skills are required. It also means I’m quickly gaining confidence with a wider range of tools, materials, and techniques. Then there’s the paperwork, such as job sheets and documentation following repairs and testing. 
Some of the lads at college only work on domestic bathrooms and kitchens, whereas I get involved with a much wider variety of projects. I was recently working at Sheffield Arena, which was a really interesting experience. For me, this variety keeps it enjoyable and it never becomes stale. Every day is a new challenge and experience. 

What does the future hold for you? 

My apprenticeship ends in April 2024, so there’s not much longer to go. Once I’ve gained my qualification, I can pursue a full-time career in plumbing and gas installations and repairs. I owe a lot to the team at Vic Coupland, as they’ve helped me to explore my options, learn key skills, and confirm that the M&E sector is where I want to be. 

Get in touch 

If you’re interested in apprenticeships and other career opportunities at Vic Coupland, call our team on  
01482 323346 or use the contact form. 
Tagged as: Interviews
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