Hayley Phenix, at 19 years of age, is already taking the plumbing industry by storm, having won her regional heats at the National Young Apprentice of the Year Awards in February and marking her place in the history books as being the first female winner since the competition was launched six years ago.
Proof that there is a place for women in a male dominated trade, Hayley currently works alongside her father for his successful plumbing business, AMP Plumbing in Happisburgh, Norfolk.
In surprising contrast to her current job, Hayley had always dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. However, having not been offered any real career guidance at school and being told to first do her A-Levels before making any big career decisions, Hayley decided to study English A-Level.
Whilst studying, Hayley began to feel dissatisfied and craved a different vocation so she made the big decision to leave college.
This was by no means an easy step to take and her parents – whilst supportive of her decision – were quite firm in telling Hayley that she would need to find a job.
In the interim, Hayley went off to work with her father helping him out on jobs. She soon realised this was something that not only was she good at, but something she took great enjoyment from too. Hayley hasn’t looked back since.
Hayley comments: “I didn’t have any real career aspirations, I liked the idea of becoming a fashion designer but it wasn’t a top priority. When I decided to take my A-Levels I chose English as I thought I enjoyed it but then in reality I really didn’t. I wanted to drop out but my parents wouldn’t let me unless I found a job and that’s when I decided to go to work with my dad.
“I really enjoy plumbing.It’s hands on, I’m always on the move and no day is ever the same. I go to college now and study for my apprenticeship and don’t get treated differently to any of the boys on the course even though I am the only girl. I did meet some prejudices at first but I think that’s down to shock that a girl is doing a plumbing apprenticeship as I suppose it is quite unusual!
“When I go on jobs with my dad people are sometimes shocked, but I actually receive a lot of positive comments with people saying things like ‘it’s nice to see a girl working in a trade’ so it’s really encouraging.
“I do think careers advisors need to make young people more aware of the opportunities out therefor them. I never would have considered plumbing if it wasn’t for my dad so it would be really helpful if there was more information out there for young girls like me who perhaps don’t want to go down the academic route.”
Hayley has been an apprentice plumber for three years and is due to finish her apprenticeship next year where she will become fully qualified and continue working for the family business.
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