The Apprentice Skills Contest will be running again this year at PICAC’s World Plumbing Day event on 9 March 2018. The contest started in 2014 and is always a crowd pleaser! Contestants are judged on a variety of criterion throughout the contest such as precision, diligence, skillfulness and attitude.
The contest not only provides third and fourth year apprentices with an opportunity to showcase their skills and knowledge, but also promotes the importance of high quality training within the industry.
We had the chance to interview Mr. Andrew Fabb, a finalist at last year’s Apprentice Skills Contest (Sprinkler Fitting). Andrew also traveled over to the USA to represent PICAC/Australia at the United Association (UA)’s Apprentice Skills Contest. We contacted Andrew last week and asked if we could interview him. He promptly responded and agreed!
We asked Andrew when his interest in the fire protection industry started, his experience at PICAC’s World Plumbing Day Apprentice Skills Contest and his time over at the UA’s Apprentice Skills Contest in the USA:
When did you develop an interest in the fire protection industry?
“Six years ago. I was looking for a job where I could apply myself and have a bit of responsibility. The trade was brought up in conversation. I started looking into it, and it was something I really wanted to sink my teeth into. And from there, I started chasing it and it took me about a year to get into it. My old boss’s family friend actually gave me two weeks work experience and from that experience, I knew this was exactly what I wanted to pursue. I’ve been working with Grant Fire for five years now.”
Can you tell me about your experience at the Apprentice Skills Contest?
“It was actually a lot of fun. I arrived at 6am in the morning. I saw the project and I thought jeez… what have I got myself into? What have I done here! But after ten minutes in, I just enjoyed it and had fun with it. Before I knew it, I was putting the pieces together. There was a lot of work involved, but it was a really enjoyable experience. It was something different, I hadn’t done anything like it before.”
What kind of extra training after hours were you required to undertake to ensure you were ready to compete?
“It was all to do with the exam I was about to sit, and there was a bit of welding involved. I had to come in on Wednesday nights and rostered days off to work on my welding skills. Those bits and pieces I put in for the welding, with my mentor’s help of course, actually managed to get the welding looking quite good. It built my confidence up to finish the exam. I went well with it and I think that’s why I also got the call to compete in the Apprentice Skills Contest at World Plumbing Day. So, in terms of extra work for this contest it would’ve only been the welding preparation. I would recommend to anyone who is looking to do the exam properly to do extra welding practice, it takes a lot of weight off your shoulders.”
What were some of the highlights of the contest for you?
“It was Just good fun, I had a buddy who I work with there and I knew most of the guys so it was just good fun between each other. It was just something different. It was like a puzzle and we’re putting it all together. I’d definitely recommend it.”
Advice for future contestants:
“Just take it bit by bit. Just start at the beginning. I was getting a bit worked up thinking I had to do this whole project and have it all done just like that. But as I said, if you do it bit by bit, piece by piece and section by section, before you know it, you’ll start to see the end result.”
Can you tell me about your experience at the United Association’s Apprentice Skills Contest held in the USA?
“It was great! It was good to meet new people with the same trade from the other side of the world. I made a lot of friends, had good laughs and created memories even with other people who work in different trades because we all stayed at the same hotel. It was fantastic, just to go on to the other side of the world and to meet likeminded people doing the same thing and have something in common straight away. With the UA it’s like having a big brotherhood over there. As soon as they know you’re associated with it, you’re almost family to them. Then you step through the contest and I just went through it day by day, piece by piece and project by project. By the end of it, you feel like you’ve accomplished something pretty big, once you’ve done all the five days of the competition.”
Andrew working hard at the UA’s Apprentice Skills Contest
Do you think you’ll participate in more contests in the future? What’s on the horizon?
“If something was to come up, who knows. I’m always trying to improve myself in whatever trade I’m doing. I’m looking to do the design course now and I’ve just signed up for the Auto Cad course. I’m keen to further my studies and make myself a better fitter. Who knows, I might make my own business out of it. There’s a lot of possibilities in this industry. If I enjoy it, I might push it and pursue it. Once it all starts, I’ll see how it goes. If I were to open a business it wouldn’t be specifically sprinkler fitting. To open a business, I’ll need to do design course specifically for that. I might be able to work as a sprinkler fitter, and do the design on the side, it’s definitely something I am thinking about.”
Andrew is excited to attend PICAC’s World Plumbing Day 2018 event, this time acting as a Mentor to this year’s contestants. Andrew will also be presented with the UA commemorative ring during the Industry Forum. To find out more about World Plumbing Day visit www.picac.vic.edu.au and click here to register if you’d like to attend.
Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed reading about Andrew’s experience.