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Here is an interesting topic I guess- what are some of your rules for how you handle/train apprentices? Also, what have YOU seen in your travels as an apprentice, or in just how other Journeyman you work with or have seen handle apprentices.

When I first started as a first year right out of my 23 weeks of PreApprenticeship Plumbing school (Entry Leve Trades training) the first Journeyman I worked with was a bit old school. But he wasn't a dink or anything, but the typical he works on the ladder and you're getting him fittings, cutting pipe, cutting rod. I was obviously also in charge of the menial work in hauling cast, copper, rod, fittings, etc, to areas and organizing them. I also had to go through the take offs and make sure everything was there from a delivery, etc. Overtime you start to learn the names of things a bit more, and watching what the Journeyman does on the ladder (or whereever her is as you do things for him) helps you see how things are done.

But then there was the second Journeyman I worked for (a 30 year's in the trade codger who was decent), who knew I was strong as a 1st year, who came over to me and said you see this bathroom group (in copper). Make this bathroom group look like this one. And so he gave me some freedom to learn and do things on my own. And sure things are slow, but sometimes that's a nice way to learn too because if you don't have someone breathing down your neck and you screw up you can quickly fix it. Or if you screw up and they see it, they point it out and you fix it and it's done.

But then I hear stories about some really "old school" A-holes who know nothing other then how to yell.

A 20 year Journeyman and I were talking about responsibilities of a Journeyman to an Apprentice. The number one responsibilities of a Journeyman to an apprentice is to watch out for their safety.

I also think that it's our responsibility to lend them SOME of the more important tools that we have that they don't (I expect every green apprentice to have a basic selection of hand tools and a drill) and so after they use it a few times, they learn the importance of that tool and why they should buy it. I then point out after they've used my tool a few times why I bought that specific tool, (model, etc. - for example I bought Ridgid 151, 153, and 118 copper cutters because they all cut using the same cutting wheels which I stock in the van as back ups). I know when I was an apprentice, as soon as I had to borrow a tool once, after seeing the importance of it, I almost immediately bought that tool because I knew I would need it, I was committed to the trade, and I didn't like borrowing peoples things. This is contrary to a lot of apprentices today unfortunately (although it wasn't that long ago I was an apprentice).

I expect the green apprentice to do the menial tasks to earn their keep in some cases. Some of the punks you get now a days expect to be doing plumbing right away without doing time. I like guys who ask questions but who understand their role. And who don't ***** when I tell them things but just accept it. Hell there are days I wish I could be doing a menial task like jack hammering instead of having to deal with some of the doofus contractors or people out there.

Anyways - your thoughts, opinions, stories, on the Journeyman/Apprentice roles are appreciated.
 

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I can still remember being an apprentice. I've worked with all types of journeymen....some had me cleaning fittings and carrying pipe. That's useful, by the way. I learned a ton regarding fitting types, how to carry pipe and how to handle the material.



I've gone through countless picking lists and manifests to verify materials. It teaches you consistency and organization. I never went home without learning something new. And it is that hunger that still makes me strive to learn more every single day. I often spent upwards of half my pay on tools, equipment and books.


I even converted my s-10, which was a really sharp truck, into a work vehicle because I knew that this would be my life's work. One thing that I learned quickly was when to ask questions and when to keep quiet and learn. I NEVER recommended a better way to do something out loud because everyone arrives at one result from many different roads.

If I ever thought something was done in a manner that I didn't think was the best and safest way, I held my tongue and looked it up that night when I got home.

Prefabrication is also a good way to really perfect your soldering, threading, etc.... I once had to prefabricate 220 Tub and shower valves as an apprentice. I got really good at soldering and measuring that month!!.


Good or bad, you can learn from every person that you work with, in this trade or otherwise. What you do with that knowledge and how much you strive to continue to gain knowledge will determine if you are just a journeyman...or a craftsman.
 

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I've been through more apprentices than I can remember. Some lasted a few days, some a couple of hours. Very few stuck around long enough to get their ticket. The apprentice program (ordeal) should be designed to weed out the weak the stupid and the corrupt. This ain't no job at the Wal-Mart. Customers and the public depend on us not only for their safety and well being but also to work in their homes without knocking over their garbage cans, knocking up their daughters and stealing the silverware.:thumbsup:
 

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I got alot of patience for the _ing helper until I get disrespected. Once disrespect happens, it's a foregone conclusion that the kid will be signing the book.

I seriously like to be called "sir" or "Mr. Plumber" (and everything that entails) until I say differently, which is usually when they get their card. Hey, if I'm signing the checks, I deserve _ing respect. Period.
 

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I have had many, many apprentices because of my background in new high rise work, most of them were at least capable of taking direction and following instructions, a few were just too dumb to tolerate. When hired every apprentice would get my lecture that covered everything from safety to what was epected of them, and I always emphasized taking care of the tools, no arm wrapping cords, no lowering tools from a ladder with the cord, etc. I had that talk with one apprentice near the end of the day and sent him out after to help pick up, the first thing he did was start arm wrapping a cord. Yes, I fired him.
 

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I have tried to keep up with apprentices Ive had in the past. It's hard when there are a buch of em.

I taught them everything I could to make them work smarter not harder. I am always proud to hear they turned out.
 

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new nickname:Quaker State
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My oldest son who at the time was 26, worked with me for a short spell. He had been in and out of jobs for years. Going from sprinkler work to being a delivery boy for a plumbing company, to a roofer, to working with me in plumbing, then back to roofing again where he is now, and is doing great.
The whole time that he worked with me, all he seemed to care about as far as plumbing was concerned was how much I made, how much " we could make " and what was for supper. He never seemed interested in learning how to install, what the codes are, etc.
Well. My middle son who used to come with me on some jobs during the summer and play with copper fittings and use them as if they were tinker toys, became the best helper, the best friend I have ever worked with in my entire life.
He was so " in to " what I did, how I did it, and wanted to know what it took to be as good as he saw me to be.
Recently, the economy took its toll on my business and I had to regretfully let him go. I have missed him working with me so much, one will never know.
He is now working for a fire sprinkler company. Said its ok, but he asks me every week if my work picks up enough would I please hire him back. God if I only could.
This kid, will make one of the best plumbers you would ever want to meet. I know it. Not because he is my son, but because he has what it takes.
Matter of fact, I have him almost persuaded to join this site to learn even more about other fellow plumbers habits, traits, knowledge, and wisdom.
I would really like his user name here to be " Plasticmanskid, or something to that effect. I think once he gets in here that he will realize just how much our " Camaraderie" as fellow plumbers really means that his appreciation for who we are and what we are here for will help to inspire him even more. He is only 21, but he knows way more about this trade at his age than I did. He is even talking about trying to get his journeymans license.
Maybe one day before I am dead and gone, he will be here as a professional just like us, and will teach someone somewhere just what an important part we plumbers play in the world we live in today. Thanks, Plasticman
 

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I always have a talk with an apprentice when I get them. Letting them know how I work and what I expect of them and that I am here for a career and not just a job. They always know that I have kids at home and I don't provide adult day care so they can be laid off or fired just as fast as they were hired. My most recent problem that I have encountered in the past six months is having apprentices and even some journeyman not wanting to listen because I am only 33 and according to them I don't know enough because of my age.
 

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If you are the boss, then thats it, bottom line. Don't make any difference if you do or don't know how to run the place. What you say go's. Tell em if they can't keep their mouths to themselves them go stand in the un-employment line. Sure someone there will listen. NOT!!!
 

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I always have a talk with an apprentice when I get them. Letting them know how I work and what I expect of them and that I am here for a career and not just a job. They always know that I have kids at home and I don't provide adult day care so they can be laid off or fired just as fast as they were hired. My most recent problem that I have encountered in the past six months is having apprentices and even some journeyman not wanting to listen because I am only 33 and according to them I don't know enough because of my age.
Im in the same boat with you. Im 25 and running work is tough when most of the guys that work with me are old enough to be my dad. I just let the n**s hang low and do what I have to do to make them realize I know whats going on, and I dont do this for practice.
 

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Stretches the cord in which causes the whole cord to get twisted and annoying to unravel.


As for apprentices, my dad worked me hard when I was a young kid. Grew up in the farming areas. You quick, and precise. Now, hes a grumpy old ******** but I leart a lot about work ethic from him. By the time I was in 2nd year I had 3 guys under me because we were so short on journeyman for the jobs.

I went through the gopher phase. It is necessary in order to teach a person about organization and get the person understanding efficiency in the job atmosphere. You have to teach them time over cost. I tend to work my guys hard, but I will take each one aside, and start teaching then soldering techniques, or say proper cast runs, and how they should look.

#1 make sure the system works as it should.
#2 make sure it looks good.
#3 clean up your bloody mess.

After a guy has 3 months under him/her, I will let them start small tasks and slowly build them up. You have to work on their confidence levels, and correct them. Yelling at someone doesn't get the job done, just have to be firm, and direct. If they can't handle it, they wont survive.

I love training people, I find it rewarding.

I had a guy, he was a bit older, didnt listen to me, ran some cast and this was in a high end place where looks matter. I had him take it all down. He never understood what I was going for until I did it with him. After that, he always comes back and tells me I made him a better plumber by showing him how to take pride and think ahead about everything.

Hope this wasnt to long winded, but I am always up for training, and I am still always learning.

Even as a ticketed guy, my ears are always open to new ideas and tricks.

As said earlier, if you dont see progression in 6 months, change it up.

J.
 
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