PRIZE-WINNER Kersty Ramsay has a promising career in the pipeline.
Kersty spent years working for Barclays, but was looking for a new challenge when she bumped into an old friend who talked to her about becoming an apprentice.
She signed up with Gentoo and embarked on a new career as the housing company’s first female plumber.
“I was 30 when I started my apprenticeship and everyone else was 16 or 17 years old,” says Kersty.
“Even the lecturer was younger than me and at first I thought I just couldn’t go through with it.
“However, I persevered – focussing on plumbing for three years and on gas for one year – and I ended up loving every minute of the course.
“I became great friends with all my course mates and we were really sad when the time came to leave college.
“There were 20 of us at the beginning, but it’s a long, tough course and by the end only eight of us remained, so we had become really close.
“For me, the best thing was going back to learning after spending nine years in an office, but there’s nothing I would change and we received fantastic support along the way, both from the college and from our training officers.”
Kersty’s success as a trainee saw her named JTL Training’s North East Plumbing, Heating and Ventilation Apprentice of the Year.
She travelled to the Tower of London last week for the national final and although she did not win, has been asked to become an ambassador to raise awareness of apprenticeships, particularly for women in construction.
“People often don’t believe I’m a plumber, but when they find out it’s true everyone thinks it’s great and I love to watch their reactions,” she said.
“It’s hard work and there’s some heavy lifting, but I was determined to do everything without help and I’m pleased to say that I’ve proved a few naysayers wrong along the way.
“It’s a fantastic role for a woman and anyone thinking of it as a career shouldn’t be put off by the prospect of working with so many men.
“It’s not the Stone Age anymore. That said, you’ve got to be prepared to give as good as you get.”