Ramping up the feel good vibes for our health & wellbeing issue, we have a wrap up of Master Plumbers Australian intern in Denmark, Jack Dainer, who spent August and September learning the tricks of the trade from Copenhagen plumbers Henrik W Hansen.

We’d like to offer our congratulations to fourth year apprentice Jack Dainer, who has stepped up to every challenge he faced as an apprentice plumber in Denmark on a four week working trip. He was also joined by Cooke & Dowsett apprentice Trent Crosbie, who was working with Finn L Davidsen in Copenhagen, arriving just a few weeks after Jack. Working on a range of domestic and roofing projects, Jack is looking forward to putting the skills he learned in Copenhagen into practice back home in Australia. Here’s what he has to say about his time over there.

Why did you apply for the internship?

I saw the opportunity to go overseas to be a plumber and I thought it sounded like just the thing I needed to boost my career. I emailed my Field Officer, Andrew and he told me to go for it. I completely forgot about the application until weeks later, when I got a phone call to say I had been successful. At first I thought it was a prank call. It took a while to sink in. It was the chance of a lifetime and I’d recommend anyone thinking of applying next year to go for it.

What kind of projects were you working on?

I was working on a range of domestic maintenance and roofing projects, especially roof flashings, which is what the company specialises in.

Talk us through the differences between Danish plumbing and Australian plumbing. What did you learn and what do you think we could learn from them?

The bathrooms in Copenhagen were really small, which made working in them a challenge. I was impressed with how the Danish did their roofing. They believe that silicone is only valid for a few months so don’t use it. They fold and join everything three or four times before they deem it to be watertight and sealed. There’s a lot of work involved, but it looks much neater.

I found it easy to adjust, even though I was using different tools. Interestingly, the guys I worked with adapted a lot of the tools themselves, they would buy a tool and customise it to suit the job they were doing.

This is the health & wellbeing issue – did you notice any differences over there with OHS practice in comparison to how we do things over here?

There was a big difference! Australian standards are much more rigorous. I couldn’t believe that in Copenhagen, they wear runners, instead of steel cap boots. Not everyone wears helmets or PPE on site. For me it was hard to get my head around the fact that they don’t use the water barrier sandbags that we have. Instead, they use plastic poles with timber going through them to section things off. Everyone thought I was very safety-conscious because I wanted to wear ear muffs or safety glasses when I was grinding. They used ear muffs but not everyone used glasses.

Were you made to feel welcome?

The company Director, Henrik Hansen, picked me up from the airport. He looked after me like a son, he took me to the zoo, the soccer and swimming with his children, as well as inviting me into his home.

Henrik even took me to experience the typically Danish phenomenon of ‘winter bathing,’ which involves plunging into icy pools, followed by blasts in a sauna to warm up – an interesting way to wake up, but certainly made me feel a part of Danish culture!

 At work, I was paired with a partner called Mark for the jobs so we could work together. He lived just over the bridge in Sweden so it was a pleasure to go to his house for dinner one night. Most people spoke really good English, so the language barrier wasn’t much of an issue.

What tips and tricks did you learn that you are going to put into practice back home in Australia?

With my Journeyman’s exam coming up next month, I am going to try and put the bending techniques I learned into practice when I am doing spouting work. I think it will be a lot more effective than silicone joining because you won’t have gaps. In my opinion, the Danish way looked much neater and I was really fascinated by it.

What advice would you give for those thinking of applying for the internship next year?

I wouldn’t hesitate for a second. Make sure you talk to your Field Officers about making an application. Apply for as many awards and take on as many CV enhancing skills as you can. Be open to anything. It’s a life changing experience that you should jump into with no doubts.

Jack’s Diary

Monday came around and I was paired up with a bloke named Mark. A roofer all his life, he knew a lot about roofing, which I found highly beneficial. Truth be told, it’s not my area of specialization and I was looking forward to learning about how the Danes did it. The job we had to do was hard to explain without seeing it. Before we left, we prefabbed a heap of sheet metal cut outs with bends and folds to suit the onsite cut out. Once we had finished that, which took an hour or so, we left for the job. Once we got there, he showed me what was involved for the whole job and what he wanted it to look like.

It did not look like a big job until he explained the process of what needs to be done. Getting started, we had to remove all the old flashing and clean it up ready for the new sheeting. A few hours in, we had the old flashing off, including the chipping of the cement under it. After that, we proceeded to cut into the brickwork, as we needed that chipped away. Finally we got all that we needed and then could proceed measuring out for the ply that would soon be laid on top. Using the old flashing as a template, we cut the ply boards to suit, sat them on top, and screwed them down. Then it was time to head home. Mark had offered to have dinner at his house with his family and I was more than happy to. Meeting his wife and two boys was really nice, as was the dinner she made us after a hard day on the tools.

Would your Master Plumbers Member company be interested in hosting a Danish apprentice?

Master Plumbers are seeking expressions of interest from Member companies who are interested in hosting Danish apprentice interns in 2018. Members Cooke & Dowsett have been reaping the benefits of reciprocal skills exchange for many years now. If you are interested

in hosting an apprentice, or sending an apprentice overseas, please email [email protected] – not only could your workforce benefit from the culture and skills exchange, but there could also be the opportunity to send one of your apprentices over too. Email us to find out more!

Are you a Plumbing Apprenticeships Victoria intern who is interested in applying for an internship in Copenhagen next year?

Let your Field Officers know that you are interested – there will be more details to come in 2018!