Strona główna Działy English Zone Invasion of british plumbers… and "deers"

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    IT WAS one of the most curious episodes in British employment history: City workers were abandoning high-flying jobs to retrain as plumbers.

    Now, as trade associations give warning of a major oversupply of trainee plumbers, the employee exodus from the Square Mile may be going into reverse, with plumbers returning to the City.

    The rush into the trade began four years ago with a report that there was a desperate shortage of plumbers, who could earn £70,000 a year.

    Now the shortfall is put at 1,500 plumbers for the next three years, but there are 26,000 on NVQ2 courses, many more working for higher qualifications and thousands on “fast-track courses”. Competition for apprenticeships is fierce. Plumbing companies report turning away hundreds of hopefuls. And starting salaries are low.

    Richard Nissen, the head of the London plumbing company Staunch and Flow, said: “Trainee plumbers are paid £10,000 a year. No one can afford to pay them a living wage.” Workers from Eastern Europe are filling the shortage on building sites; in the domestic trade favoured by former City workers, plumbers cannot expect to earn more than £20,000 for several years.

    “I was working in a City law firm,” Mr McCafferty, a geography graduate from Exeter University, said. “I didn’t particularly enjoy working there. Plumbing seemed an interesting vocation.” He took the NVQ2 course and began casting around for employment.

    “I would have been on £10,000 for two years, while living in London,” he said. “I would have to have taken a second job five days a week.”

    Now he has returned to the City working in credit risk management. “When I was offered work with a bank, I took it,” he said. Ivor James, 38, a former office worker for HSBC, also switched to plumbing. He has now been unemployed for two months. “I have sent out 75 CVs,” he said. “Fifteen companies replied. The only one that could take me on was offering peanuts.”

    Mark Embury, formerly a derivatives broker on the Stock Exchange, left his £100,000-a-year job to run a plumbing business, part of the Drain Doctor franchise. He hoped that the venture would generate a turnover of £500,000. Last month he sold out.

    The Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors has expressed concern about the proliferation of “rogue trainers” offering two-week courses. “No one can become a skilled plumber in two weeks”

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