There is no indication the demand on plumbers in Victoria will decrease anytime soon.

In May 2018, the Victorian Government announced a $172 million investment in 50 free TAFE courses, including Certificate II in Plumbing (Pre-apprenticeship) and Certificate IV in Plumbing Services, creating more pathways to employment in the plumbing industry.

Brendan Gould, General Manager Training and Industry Development at Master Plumbers, says the high industry demand has resulted in exciting career-change opportunities for plumbers who want to down tools and enter the classroom to become trainers.

“The plumbing industry is buoyant and while there is plenty of work in the construction sector, more plumbers are happy continuing in the industry as it is financially more rewarding,” he says.

“However, the promotion of training as a career opportunity has not been well advertised. The Government is promoting the opportunity to study in the VET sector but is doing little to encourage people to become teachers and trainers in the sector.”

“Educating is great fun, the working conditions are good and there is opportunity for personal development,” he says.

Brendan himself is a former plumber who now oversees Master Plumbers’ expansive range of courses, ranging from pre-apprenticeship to posttrade industry programs. He couldn’t be more satisfied with his career change. “It’s a way to stay involved in the industry but to support it in a different role, and to give back to the industry,” he says.

Becoming a qualified trainer involves completing a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, which Brendan says costs approximately $2000.

The need for an influx of new trainers was evident in a recent meeting with the 17 Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) that deliver plumbing training across Victoria, where it was identified that there is a shortage of up to 30 positions across the sector.

It is a similar story elsewhere.

“There is a nationwide shortage across the plumbing sector and wider VET sector for many industry areas,” says Brendan.

Solutions are being sought elsewhere. In Tasmania, the Master Plumbers Association of Tasmania has been working with TasTAFE to provide a scholarship for plumbers to undertake a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, to increase the number of trainers.

“Teaching is a great career change and we should do everything we can to support people who want to enter the industry,” Brendan says.