ROARING TRADE: Grafton ‘desperate for more tradesmen’
PETE The Plumber can be spotted installing the pipes in many of Grafton’s major developments lately. But even with a team of ten the family-owned Grafton business is struggling to keep up with demand.
35-year-old father of eight Peter Quiring and his wife Terri started the business just two years ago when Peter finished his apprenticeship.
Previously a roofer by trade, he saw a potential gap in the market and was attracted to what he saw as a more interesting trade.
“There was a shortage for plumbers and I was working as a roofer for some plumbers,” Mr Quiring said.
“I saw that plumbing was more diverse, every day is different from the last. Roofing is very weather dependent and quite hard on the body.”
It was during his four-year apprenticeship at Gillespie Plumbing he earned the nickname Pete The Plumber. The name stuck and he carried it with him into his solo venture.
“That’s what everyone knows me as,” Mr Quiring said.
These days with such a large team he admits it does create some confusion.
“Shane will turn up at a job and people will ask ‘are you Pete?’.
“But I like it. It makes me feel special.”
This week is National Skills Week and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis is encouraging the Grafton community to ‘Thank A Tradie’.
He said Mr Quiring is just one of the tradies we should be thanking for keeping the Clarence Valley moving through the pandemic.
“It’s the perfect time to acknowledge the continued hard work and commitment of local tradies who are the backbone of our communities,” Mr Gulaptis said.
“Many of our tradies are out in the community delivering important services during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“Tradespeople work on projects ranging from electrical repairs in the family home to major infrastructure projects. They gain these gold standard skills from vocational education and training.
“Peter is a local plumber who studied a Certificate III in Plumbing at TAFE NSW and now operates his own business.
“He started the business after graduating in 2018 and has already grown it from a one-man operation to now employing nine people, including a number of apprentices, one of which is school-based.”
The Pete The Plumber team has been kept busy with several major projects on the books, including the $7.6M Grafton Regional Gallery upgrade, St Catherine’s Villa redevelopment and the $6.5M PCYC Grafton facility which opened on Monday.
“It’s exciting to know that local tradies like Peter have been successful in securing local contracts on multi-million dollar projects,” Mr Gulaptis said.
There’s only one thing stopping Pete The Plumber from taking on even more work.
“It’s gone a bit better than I initially expected,” he said.
“But I’m actually looking for more (staff). We’re quite desperate for a few more tradesman.”
Mr Quiring is looking at furthering his skills at TAFE to become a qualified gas fitter.
“TAFE NSW equipped me with the skills that I needed to get started in the plumbing industry and launch my business,” he said.
“The teachers are well-qualified and have many years’ experience in their industry, so they have terrific currency of knowledge to offer.”
In the past five years, TAFE NSW has trained 13,000 electricians, 12,000 carpenters, 7000 plumbers and 4500 car mechanics with the hands-on practical skills to succeed in their chosen industry and fill many needs for the community.
Skills and Tertiary Education Minister Geoff Lee said National Skills Week also presented the opportunity to reiterate there is more to vocational education than just trades.
“Whether you want to study healthcare and nursing, cyber security, business management, marketing or accounting, there’s a variety of qualifications or degrees for anyone who wants to get the skills they need for the career of their dreams,” Mr Lee said.
The NSW Government is addressing skills requirements by providing employers with access to fee-free traineeship and apprenticeship training to equip employees with the skills they need for their business.