Female Gas Engineer Inspires Others During National Apprenticeship Week

08th Feb 2024 5 minute read
Lincoln Smith
Lincoln Smith

National Apprenticeship Week 5 – 11 February 2024

A hard-working trainee gas engineer from Rugby is urging others to consider apprenticeships as a viable and rewarding career path.

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, which runs from Monday, the 5th until Sunday 11th of February, an apprentice in the heating and plumbing trade has spoken out about her experience. 

Bethany Jenkins, aged 26 started her apprenticeship around two years ago with Rugby-based company Custom Heat, and says she hasn’t looked back since.

Bethany Jenkins is an apprentice gas engineer with Custom Heat

Beth began her journey with Custom Heat in 2021 after almost giving up on her dream to become an engineer because she thought her career background and being a female in a male-dominated profession would work against her.

But she was proved wrong and is just a year-and-a-half away from being fully trained in the profession.

After completing her GCSEs at Avon Valley High School in Rugby and exploring various career paths, including being an apprentice PE teacher and a care worker, Beth discovered her passion for plumbing through an evening course at Leamington College after her sister had suggested it.

“I hadn’t picked up a tool in my life before that course but I was soon loving it and how hands-on it was. The course was aimed more at handymen who already had skills and wanted a qualification, but it gave me a taste of what I wanted to do, but I was unsure how to go about it and didn’t think I would be accepted because I was female and hadn’t got much of a background in this trade” she said.

It was her dad who spotted an advert on Facebook for an apprenticeship at Custom Heat, and as she already knew of the company Beth applied but hadn’t realised initially that it was for an apprenticeship in an admin role.

“I rang them up when I realised that wasn’t what I wanted to do, but they kept my details on file and just a few months later they contacted me as a position as a gas engineer apprenticeship had come up and I jumped at the chance and I’m so grateful to them for giving me a chance at it and I haven’t looked back since,” she said.

Currently working four days a week and attending college one day a week at Leamington College, Beth is fully immersed in her apprenticeship. She is enthusiastic about the continuous learning experience, praising the one-on-one tuition, practical support, and exposure to various aspects of the heating industry.

Her current role involves fitting radiators, installing new boilers, and upgrading heating systems. She expressed her surprise at the complexity of the job, emphasizing the need to learn about different heating systems and regulations.

“I never expected there to be so much to it and so much learning to do, from different heating systems to learning all about the regulations. But I really love this way of learning. It’s like one-to-one tuition as I’m with an engineer four days a week and can ask them questions on the job. It’s a great way for me and how I learn,” she added.

Beth also said that she gets a positive reaction from clients daily because she is a female in the role.

“Everyone is lovely and warm towards me and says that it is nice to see a female in the industry. I especially get a good reaction if it is a single woman or an elderly person,” she said.

Beth encourages others to consider apprenticeships, emphasizing the value of earning while learning from the best. Her apprenticeship is set to conclude in about a year-and-a-half, and she is currently in Phase 3, moving on to Phase 4 in September.

Lincoln Smith, Custom Heat’s Managing Director, said it was important to have apprentices, such as Beth, working for the company. 

Having supported approximately 25 apprentices over the past decade, Smith believes apprenticeships are integral to the company’s success.

“We have been running since the 1980s and I think in the last decade we have had around 25 apprentices in that time. Beth is one of our many success stories, and we encourage people to take up apprenticeships. We are proud to support her on this journey, and we believe she will go far in our industry,” he added.

Beth said that she was looking forward to finishing her apprenticeship and was positive about all the support she received.

“Having a trade like this means that I will have lifelong job security and financial stability that comes with acquiring a valuable skill. I really want to thank Custom Heat for giving me the chance to prove myself,” she said.

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