Bay of Plenty apprentice Bayley Wilkie has won a Plumbing World Scholarship at the national 2022 New Zealand Plumbing Awards, held in Rotorua on Friday 17 June.

The 24-year-old Plumbing, Gasfitting & Drainlaying apprentice was nominated for the scholarship by her Masterlink Regional Manager Russell Walsh.

When he first met Bayley, Russell was unsure that the petite and timid young woman in front of him had what it takes to succeed in the trades.

Today, he is pleased and impressed to see the mature and capable adult she has become with the support of her host company Laser Plumbing Te Puke.

My incorrect first impression was of someone who would struggle with the physicality of the Plumbing Industry, the need to be decisive and to speak up.

- Russell Walsh, Masterlink Regional Manager, Central North Island

Bayley Wilkie + Russell Walsh at the NZ Plumbing Awards 2022
Bayley Wilkie and Russell Walsh at the 2022 NZ Plumbing Awards

Bayley says she is proud to be a female in a traditionally male-dominated industry. She is determined to prove herself equal to – or better than – most in the trade.

A self-motivated and organised apprentice, Bayley has co-ordinated a study group for her peers with positive results.

At Laser Plumbing Te Puke, she covers a diverse range of work. In addition to routine domestic plumbing maintenance and alterations, Bayley is skilled at installing wood burners.

She has been exposed to pump installations, farm plumbing, transportable homes, caravans, commercial work (in kiwifruit pack houses around Te Puke), and gasfitting.

Now a fourth-year apprentice, Bayley interacts with me as an equal, is organised and vocal, and handles the physicality of the trade whether it be bending 20mm copper or getting a wood fire into place.

- Russell Walsh, Masterlink Regional Manager, Central North Island

Bayley also asked for more experience with new builds which has helped share the workload of other staff in the business.

The Plumbing World Scholarship is the latest addition to a growing list of impressive achievements.

Bayley won Laser Plumbing Employee of the Year in 2021. This national award is usually won by a qualified Tradesman and entries are received from Laser Group franchises all over New Zealand.

Earlier this year, Bayley won a Masterlink Outward Bound Scholarship and will be participating in a 16-day leadership course for construction industry apprentices from all over New Zealand.

At this year's NZ Plumbing Conference held in Rotorua, Bayley joined a panel of apprentices and business owners for a discussion about diversity and inclusion in our industry.

Diversity & Inclusion Panel Discussion
Bayley (in beanie) on the Diversity & Inclusion Panel at the 2022 NZ Plumbing Conference

She told hundreds of conference delegates from all over New Zealand how, with the support of her grandfather Roy, she approached plumbing businesses offering to work for free for two weeks.

It wasn't easy getting into the trade, but after a year of working as a labourer at Laser Plumbing Te Puke, owner John Wilson offered Bayley an apprenticeship through Masterlink.

At first as a female I got questioned on my ability to do jobs by clients. Now I've gone from being questioned to being requested for jobs.

- Bayley Wilkie

Bayley is becoming someone who will make a significant contribution to our industry, and the Plumbing World Scholarship will certainly help her on her journey.

Bayley wins a certificate and $1000 to spend at her local Plumbing World branch.

3N5A6471 Bayley Wilkie + Roy Wilkie 17 June 2022
Bayley Wilkie and her "Pop" Roy Poole at the 2022 NZ Plumbing Awards

Dale Wilson Laser Plumbing Te Puke and Bayley Wilkie
Dale Wilson of Laser Plumbing Te Puke and Bayley Wilkie

About Plumbing World Scholarships

Plumbing World Scholarships are awarded to Masterlink apprentices who have demonstrated diligence in their studies and a passion for the industry.

About the New Zealand Plumbing Awards

The New Zealand Plumbing Awards acknowledge the many positive achievements and success stories in the plumbing, gasfitting, and drainlaying industry and are presented at a gala dinner on the final night of the annual New Zealand Plumbing Conference.

Organised by Master Plumbers, the national conference has been held for over 100 years and is the premier event in the plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying industry, with attendees coming from all over the country.

About Master Plumbers

Master Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers NZ Inc (Master Plumbers) is the national membership organisation for plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying businesses, with 18 regional Associations and Branches across New Zealand.

Companies go through a Quality Assurance programme to become a member. Members are provided with a wide range of resources and training opportunities to support them in staying up to date with the latest technologies, products, and compliance requirements.

Master Plumbers advocates on behalf of members and the plumbing industry. The association organises the annual New Zealand Plumbing Conference culminating in the prestigious New Zealand Plumbing Awards, which recognise excellence in the industry.