Tarago resident Georgia Ugov is wasting no time getting on with her career. The 17-year-old is a first-year apprentice plumber with Queanbeyan-based Simmo’s Plumbing who applied for the Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grants to help pay for her tools and tuition fees. She is one of only 10 people to receive the grant, which is given to chosen apprentices who demonstrate commitment to the plumbing trade.
“I really love plumbing,” says Georgia. “It’s something different every day, which is why I like it. I was in a women-in-trades program and I got to try out different trades – a different one every few months. I tried plumbing and liked it a lot.”
Rheem started the Apprentice Plumber Grants program to help ease financial pressure on apprentice plumbers. The company says the grants are a way of thanking the Australian plumbing industry for its ongoing support.
“Following feedback from apprentices, plumbing teachers and employers, we’ve determined that the greatest financial hardships are associated with tuition and tools,” says Rheem chief operating officer Chris Taylor.
“The grant provides recipients with the opportunity to commit to further study, such as continuing the optional fourth year where apprentices can earn their trades licence and dream of one day operating their own business.”
Georgia is completing her studies through the Canberra Institute of Technology, and she outshone her competition by demonstrating a passion for plumbing, a strong work ethic and commitment to the industry.
“I knew from a young age that I never wanted to get stuck behind a desk, but instead have a career that involved using my hands and problem solving,” says Georgia. “After completing the women-in-trades program, I realised without a doubt that my future involved plumbing.
“We are taking extra precautions because of COVID-19 as we’re in people’s houses. We’re being really careful.”
Georgia is currently doing her plumbing apprenticeship studies online because of COVID-19 restrictions, but prefers hands-on training rather than sitting at a computer.
“I’ve remained determined to complete my apprenticeship,” she says. “I love plumbing because it makes me feel successful and this is something that has not been my experience throughout prior education and jobs until I began the trade.”
Women comprise only one per cent of construction tradespeople, but Georgia isn’t letting gender be a barrier.
“As a woman in the industry, I have come to accept that I will never be as physically strong as some of my male colleagues,” she says. “At times this can be frustrating because it puts me at a disadvantage with tasks that require great physical strength, but I’ve learned to not be afraid to ask for a hand and that no-one is going to think less of me because of it.”