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Careers Spotlight: Adam Ladley, Commercial Plumber – National Careers Week 2021

March 2, 2021

Yesterday we took a trip into the world of quantity surveying with Ellie, and today we’re stepping into the world of commercial plumbing with commercial plumber/working supervisor and ex-semi-professional boxer, Adam Ladley.

From the critical importance of health and safety to advice for those who are still figuring out what they want to do after leaving school, read about Adam’s career journey here.


Describe what you do in your job. What is a typical day like?

I don’t feel a typical day for me is that of a typical commercial plumber, as I am taking/making phone calls and emailing job requirements, reports, quotations, diary booking and liaising with both the office and our clients regarding multiple site. This is alongside completing my manual workloads on the diary – these are allocated by our head office team each day, with a brief description of the issue we are going to be looking at for the client – e.g. No Hot Water, a Leak, No Heating, etc.

There are different types of commercial plumbing – Installation/Project Plumbers and Maintenance Plumbers. I work within planned and reactive maintenance, and my role tends to be based around Breakdowns, Diagnostics, Repairs, Servicing and upgrades to existing client heating, hot water and plumbing application – visiting site, inspecting, identifying and diagnosing the issue/s, and then working with the client and my wider team to rectify these as soon as possible.

Health and safety comes first and last. I don’t think there can ever be too many reminders about this – no matter how long you’ve been in the job

Was this your first job? What other jobs or work experience have you had?

My very first job was the Army at 16, after which I entered construction at age 19 as a ground worker.

I’m time served in both Domestic and Commercial applications now, with my preference being commercial. I’ve worked for three large commercial plumbing companies.

What training do you do at work to help you do your job role?

Mainly Safe Isolations of Electrical Systems, Asbestos Awareness, and in some cases, people undertake MEWP (mobile elevated working platform) qualifications to access the areas they need to, in order to complete their works safely. You can never be too trained.

What role-specific qualifications do you think are needed to do your job?

It depends where you want to be in the long-term; whether in the design aspects of the job or the installation/maintenance aspect. If design-biased, then academic education is the primary source for this route – school, A-levels, then university.

If new entrants wish to be more manual and biased towards diagnostic and repairs or installation, then I don’t think they can go wrong with an apprenticeship.  Hands-on site experience of real scenarios, combined with knowledge of regulations and plumbing, system types taught by the college.

Name the top three skills needed for your job.

I would say a logical mind, communication, and – of course – a willingness to learn the manual skills.

What was the highest level of qualification a person needs from school, college, or university to start a career in plumbing?

Passes in English, Maths (and a science option if possible – but not essential)

Once you’ve earned your basic Level 2/3 qualifications in plumbing, you can enter this job role and build up your skills, experience and training from there.

Which of your personality traits do you feel compliment your role?

I’m a good communicator, that my work ethics are very good too. I like to laugh and I feel it compliments my interactions with clients and colleagues at times.

Do you have any interests that complement your job role?

I have an interest in renewable energy and I’m passionate about my work. During my employment I’ve chosen to do my electrical qualifications and my commercial gas, which will assist going forward.

I’m an ex rugby player and an ex semi-professional boxer, so I guess I’ve always enjoyed the heavier touch and graft which can be required manually at times.

How many years of experience do you need to do your job?

Ideally, I would say people need to be looking at completing an apprenticeship 2/3 years and then perhaps another 2 years on the tools alongside an experienced installer, will give someone the confidence and ability to work alone on installations.

Maintenance and breakdowns can be more technical than installation. So I would say a little longer for someone to become knowledgeable  to work on varied system types.

I would honestly recommend new entrants to focus more on one or two types of the engineering aspect. Either focus on the wet-works plumbing, Gas, Heat/Air Source, Electrical engineering or IT side of the job. Have a few years in one of those roles before deciding if they want to work in other areas. It can be a real headache to jump in and work on them all while learning the different types as you go along.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in the world of plumbing?

If I could summarise it all for new entrants, I would just say to not be so hard on themselves, take it easy, no rush, just stay positive, communicate the good and the bad, ask for help, think and do safety wise. Know the initial route to take with education and apprenticeship, stick with it as nobody walks onto the job with the full capability of the man next to him who has been doing it for years. It’s OK to be the new person. If the attitude is right, the teaching will be right.

I feel it’s really important for people to have mentors too. Even at my age I still have my go-to guys for different types of applications. Communication is key. No one ever knows everything; there’s always something to learn from someone else.

What advice would you give to people who are in school and trying to figure out what they want to do in the future?

I’ve always advised younger people to treat their school time as a job. Turn up on time, do your work, give it your best, respect your teachers and treat them like an employer.


For more information about the career opportunities available at J Tomlinson, please visit our Careers Page at www.jtomlinson.co.uk/careers

If the role your searching for isn’t currently on our website, feel free to send a copy of your CV and covering letter to recruitment@jtomlinson.co.uk

J Tomlinson, which was founded in Nottingham the 1950s, works primarily across the Midlands, Yorkshire and Northern and Central England.

The company provides a range of sustainable building solutions including refurbishment, repairs and maintenance, engineering services, extra care construction, renewable energy, and facilities management, working across a range of key sectors including extra care, healthcare, blue light, social housing and local government.

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