Brendan Gould fell in love with plumbing and education early. He has married those passions and now heads up the registered trade organisation for Master Plumbers. Alison Dean reports.

Brendan Gould is passionate about plumbing and education. So intense are his feelings that he becomes animated as he discusses the ornamental, copper plumbing design that he discovered during his European adventures.

“The children really didn’t share my interest,” admitted Master Plumbers’ new General Manager of Training and Industry Development with a laugh. “I really am a plumbing nerd.”

Gould knew from the time he was in secondary school that university was not in his game plan. He loved the outdoors too much.

“I was fortunate to get some work with a local plumber to do some labouring. He ended up offering me a job. It was windy and muddy and crappy, and I loved every minute of it.”

With a plumbing apprenticeship underway, Gould started trade school at Box Hill Institute. “I fell in love. I loved learning about every part of plumbing. I loved the education system.”

Gould finished his apprenticeship in 1991 and in 1994 became a sole trader but there was something missing … education. To fill the gap he investigated doing some casual teaching. “I was abruptly told that I couldn’t do that without being in the TAFE system.” At that stage, Gould said, it was a bit of a closed shop.

While it was a tough knock, he soon found another outlet. He enrolled part time at RMIT and successfully completed his Business Degree at RMIT in 2001. In the same year, he went back to Box Hill Institute to study Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment. During a discussion with one of his former teachers, the topic of sessional teaching came up. Gould jumped at the opportunity and started moving into what would become his new profession. He stayed at Box Hill in numerous positions until 2012. He also continued his training, completing his Diploma and Graduate Certificate of Vocational Education, among many others.

Gould’s luck in life has been the good teachers that have taught him and mentored him as he learnt the plumbing trade and then the teaching profession.

So what is a good teacher?

“It’s someone with a good knowledge of the industry, has empathy, and is passionate and driven to get results and someone with a lot of showmanship.”

He said often this is lacking in the education system. For his part, he said, the education system is like the AFL.

“Teachers are the players,” Gould explains. “People are paying to come to see those players perform. Teachers need to be performing.”

There are a few other issues he’d like to see wiped from the training-education field. One is the teachers who don’t demonstrate the theory and spend too long in the classroom. “Many of the young guys and girls are real visual learners, teachers who can’t do the demonstrations, lose students’ respect quickly. An old plumber once told me the best way to teach is – I’ll do, we’ll do, you do. I think that is true still today.”

Gould also wants students, schools, parents and the community to stop talking down trade school and trades as a profession. “Many see trades as a last resort,” he said, “but trades in this day and age are skilled professionals. Some are very innovative and entrepreneurial. There are just so many opportunities with plumbing and with education. I also want apprentices to see the value of that education. Education is an opportunity not a burden.”

Gould’s passion and his enthusiasm for the trade and the Registered Training Organisations that deliver the schooling will be put to good use at Master Plumbers; an organisation that understands the value of lifelong learning. Master Plumbers, a strong advocate of Continuing Professional Development (CPD), which is critical for today's professionals also wants to ensure innovation in training for apprentices. 

“In a large public RTO, you are just a small cog in a big wheel,” he said.

At Master Plumbers, Gould said, he would be able to energise the trainer to engage the plumbers and thereby turn out quality plumbers that are passionate about their profession.

“I want to create a benchmark for plumbing training.”

For information on Master Plumbers Registered Training Organisation visit plumber.com.au and go to training or call (03) 9356 8902.

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