Rebecca Markey - securing success as a Plumbing Apprentice

In 2021, feeling lost in her retail career but unsure about the options available to her, Rebecca Markey attended the open enrolment night at Kirklees College to speak to the plumbing staff. As a single mum in her late twenties who was working full time, she was uncertain as to whether returning to education at this stage in her life was the right choice.

Rebecca Markey photoFortunately for Rebecca, there was financial support available to her to help with childcare and the college were able to provide a flexible timetable. Including allowing her to switch certain classes to different days and giving her additional resources so that she can catch up on classes remotely, enabling her to continue working while simultaneously embarking on her new learning journey.

As several years had passed since Rebecca completed her degree during which she had been out of education, it was decided that she would start from the beginning with the Level 1 Plumbing Diploma. From the moment she began studying she worked hard all through the academic year, submitting exams and assessments in good time and even acting as an additional member of the plumbing team, supporting many of the younger students throughout the course.

Rebecca knew that it would be a challenge to find a way to dedicate time to work, learning and family and worked hard to maintain a strong work life balance. “For me personally I try to do as much as I can in the week in terms of studying, apprentice write ups and chores so that I can use the weekend to spend time with my family and use handwritten plans of what I want to achieve on which day.”  

After excelling at Level 1, Rebecca then enrolled on the Level 2 full-time plumbing course for the 2022 to 2023 academic year. From buying her own textbooks to juggling working full time and being a single parent, she once again worked hard to keep on top of her studies.  

On eight out of nine occasions she received the highest marks in her class for her theory exams, often gaining a distinction and this commitment led to her being entered in the first HIP Skills Northern Plumbing competition. Despite narrowly missing out on making the national final, Rebecca impressed the judges so much that she gained a reference from the UK sales manager of a top pipeline manufacturer. 

As part of her learning journey Rebecca proactively organised her own work experience with Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing and thanks to her success there was offered the opportunity to complete an apprenticeship, something which she began in September 2023. After having been recognised as the winner of the Kirklees Adult Learner of the Year award for 2023, Rebecca has once again been entered into the HIP Skills Northern Plumbing competition which will take place on the 7 March at York College. 

Paul Whitaker, the Curriculum Area Manager for Plumbing and Brickwork at Kirklees College added: “When Rebecca came to an open event a couple of years ago, she was very nervous and didn’t know she could enrol onto a course like Plumbing as a mature student and single mother. We enrolled her onto our Level 1 course, and she has just gone from strength to strength. She has become a brilliant plumber and should be really proud of herself. She has consistently achieved amazing results, has always handed her work in on time and is an all-round lovely person.” 

Find out more about the apprenticeships available at Kirklees College