A career change results in better work life balance

Jarrod, now a qualified plumber, started his apprenticeship when he was 38.


Jarrod says training as a mechanic after he left school turned his passion for cars into a chore. But he stuck with it, finished his apprenticeship, went travelling, and returned to WA going into sales in the water industry. Later when he was working as a project manager, an unpaid contract sent the company he was working for under.

“I was 38, in the plumbing industry but on the project management side, jobless in a tough market, and I thought, I like the industry, plumbing is a good trade – I’ll give it a go,” Jarrod says. “I wanted to have a trade. There are plenty of opportunities in hydraulics and plumbing. If things got rough again, I would always have my ticket as a plumber.”

It was not a decision taken lightly. Jarrod had a young family and financial commitments and he knew living on an apprentice wage was going to be tough.

ACE+ Plumbing gave him an apprenticeship and he did off-the-job training with MPA Skills. When he met ACE+ managing director Matt Johnson and his business partner Scott Keys, they asked Jarrod whether he wanted to be a commercial plumber or a maintenance plumber.

“One is knowing how to diagnose and repair stuff and one is installing stuff from new,” Jarrod says. He chose maintenance. “And I love it. It’s diagnosing stuff, you are helping people fix their issues.”

Jarrod argues against a fast-track training program for mature-age plumbing apprentices, saying it takes time to acquire on-the-job skills and it’s important to safeguard the integrity of the qualification. For him, the upside of being older was his ability to communicate well with clients.

“I really enjoyed the apprenticeship, money aside. It was a hard slog financially,” Jarrod says.

“Compromises had to be made. I have always enjoyed learning. I’m glad I’ve done it. You can always help someone. If you help, generally people are pretty appreciative, which gives you a good feeling.”

ACE+ managing director Matt Johnson said the benefits of employing a mature age apprentice are endless.

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The Government of Western Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.