In the second of our new series on the day-to-day of a plumbing apprentice, Sebastian Sekene talks about team bonding, workshop banter, and going on block course.

Do you have a chance to mix with your workmates during the day?

As I work on site, I only really go to the workshop to pick up or drop off gear. So, I tend to mix mostly with the other two in my team on site or with colleagues if I’m sent to another site.

We have an on-site toolbox talk once a week where we get together to discuss health and safety issues for the job we’re working on. It could be working at heights or slippery surfaces, for example. The main contractor also has a weekly toolbox talk and our supervisor feeds that back to us.

We also catch up on our smoko and have a yarn about any concerns.

How do you get to know the rest of the Heron Plumbing team?

Our work dos give us a chance to mingle. The go karts were rained off at our mid-year do but food and drinks was still a go, and we have a Christmas do coming up. And there’s always a bit of banter at the workshop when you collect your gear or drop it back.

Sebastian on phone in van

I hated learning in my last year at high school, but I enjoy the challenge now.

- Sebastian Sekene

How do block courses fit in with your day-to-day?

I don’t do much gas or drainlaying at work, so my block courses at MIT are a chance to learn the basics.

Before you go to your next block course, you get a study guide on what you’re going to cover, and you have to complete an online assessment at home. Then you get practical training on the topic at block course, followed by a theory assessment.

If you don’t complete the online assessment beforehand, you can’t get onto the course.

Sounds like you have to be quite self-motivated to learn?

It’s funny—I hated learning in my last year at high school, but I enjoy the challenge now.

When I left school, I did a plumbing pretrades course at MIT. At the end, Masterlink Regional Manager Colin Kilpatrick gave a talk about Masterlink apprenticeships, and I liked the sound of it. I’d looked for a job myself and had no luck. Colin signed me up with Masterlink and my first host was just two minutes from where I live.

Colin helps motivate me to study. He always hits me up about the next block course and getting my online assessment done. He also comes to see me on block course, though he hasn’t brought me a coffee yet!

Pete Shields at Masterlink also comes on site to me and other apprentices whose block courses were delayed by Covid lockdowns. He can assess us on the job, so we don’t have to wait until the block course to be signed off. That also means we only have to spend three days on the course rather than five.

Sebastian fixing pipes-10x8
Sebastian currently works in the commercial division of his host business.

Sebastian Sekene is a 21-year-old Masterlink plumbing, drainlaying and gasfitting apprentice, hosted by Heron Plumbing in Auckland.

This article first appeared in NZ Plumber magazine Dec-Jan 2022-2023.