The current plumbing shortage has been much publicised recently, prompting many people to chase the dollar and have a shot at a career in plumbing. But do the many plumbing courses advertised online and in the press actually lead to a lucrative career, or is it all just a pipe dream?
It is true that some plumbers are currently earning an absolute fortune. London is one area in particular where there are simply not enough plumbers to go around. An elementary understanding of economics identifies the laws of supply and demand, and currently in London, market forces are firmly in the favour of the plumber, so much so that some are charging in excess of £90 an hour. But why is there such a current shortage of plumbers?
The cause dates back to the 1980s and 90s when an economic downturn meant there was simply not enough plumbing work to go around. As firms shed staff and reduced their apprentice intake many plumbers hung up their tools to pursue a more secure living elsewhere.
However, in the past couple of years the intake of private colleges offering plumbing courses has increased on the back of headlines about plumbers earning £90,000 a year. This has attracted individuals into the industry from all walks of life, from mature career changers to ex-services personnel and youngsters fresh out of school and university.
One of the problems facing the industry is the encouragement children are receiving from their teachers to pursue academia rather than a vocational path such as plumbing courses. With the dramatic increase in tuition fees it is anticipated this will change in the future, with many unable to afford university.
Another problem facing some private colleges caused by the high wages plumbers can expect to earn is the lack of experienced tutors. To illustrate this point, why would an individual settle for £25,000 a year as a courses lecturer when they could earn double that working as a plumber?
With the comprehensive plumbing courses currently on offer delivered by some high quality private training providers, the situation is starting to change. If you asked youngsters a few years ago what they would like to do when they grew up they would rather be involved with computers, and would have a rather dim view of the trades. As word spreads regarding the potential remuneration one can expect from a career in plumbing, coupled with the costs now associated with university, many are viewing a career in plumbing in a completely different light.