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After 49 years on the job, Tauranga plumber Ian Malcolm is calling it a day and retiring from the career he started as an apprentice in 1968. Working during the school holidays for a plumbing company, Ian found he enjoyed the work and wanted to take it further. When he completed college, Ian asked local business Paeroa Plumbers if they were looking for a plumbing apprentice. And the rest, they say, is history, with Ian hanging up his tools at Laser Plumbing Tauranga Central next week.
In almost 50 years of plumbing, Ian has seen a lot of changes in the industry, but the biggest changes have been of the more practical kind, like the types of piping used, says Ian. “Laying drains on a cold frosty morning using glazed earthenware pipes was no fun.” And while he has learnt a lot as a plumber, it's things like how to work as a team in difficult situations that he has valued. “If there is one thing I wish I had known when I started, it would be that how, by working as a team, you can overcome any obstacle, in both your home life and work life.”
Every job has its benefits and for Ian, the variety was key. “As well as teaching me many things, the plumbing trade has also taken me many places. Not only did I learn about roofing and sheet metal, multi-story and petrol pump installations and ship plumbing, I also had the benefit of working with other trades and gaining an insight into their work. This helped me with my own jobs, also giving me the ability to take on projects outside the normal sphere of plumbing work.”
With the skills shortage a topic of interest in many trades, and the number of apprentices decreasing, Ian’s retirement highlights the need to encourage more of our youth to take on a trade. He believes the trades need to work together to highlight their importance to society, and that not everyone can be a doctor, dentist or accountant. Recent reports support a greater focus on apprenticeships, with numbers showing there are currently more apprentices and industry trainees than there are students in university. For Ian, it is once again about the practicality. “The old saying ‘Learn a trade and you will always have a job' is true.”