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Laura Coombes Plumbing Industry Interview

Meet the Ladies Making Waves in the Plumbing Industry

It's a male-dominated industry known for muck and grime, and physical labour, but plumbing is now becoming a sought after career for young female apprentices too. Rheem has recently awarded grants and recognition awards to a selection of apprentices across the country and again this year, several of the winners were women. These determined ladies are demonstrating every day that women can thrive in traditionally male-dominated industries. In fact, the supervisor of one of our winners said, "She out performs any other apprentice I have been involved with in my 20+ year plumbing career across several countries."

The four female winners are:
Eilish Anderson-Grundon, 24 from Northlakes QLD
Amber Shelton, 26 from Adelaide SA
Nicole Harrington, 20 from Clontarf QLD
Laura Coombes, Mawson Lakes SA


Interview with Laura Coombes

Question: What inspired your career in plumbing?

Laura Coombes: I like working with my hands and wanted to do a trade. There are a few different trades within my family, but none are plumbers. I wanted to be more useful and liked the job security it would provide, so I did a pre-voc course and found it enjoyable.

Question: How long have you been a plumber?

Laura Coombes: I am a third year apprentice.

Question: How did it feel to be recognised with a Rheem award?

Laura Coombes: It was a nice surprise and I am appreciative for my efforts to be recognised.

Question: What's a typical day like, for you, as a plumber?

Laura Coombes: Firstly I would meet up with my tradesperson for the day. There is a variety of works we could be doing, from preventative maintenance and clearing blocked drains to installing water lines and drainage. Either way I enjoy what I do.

Question: How did you overcome the challenge of being a woman in a male-dominated industry?

Laura Coombes: I just went for it. Sure it's different, but I don't think it really matters to the guys as long as I put in the effort required to do my job. I get along with them and there's been no issues.

Question: Can you share your career goals, with us?

Laura Coombes: I intend to stay on track to becoming a fully qualified plumber and continue working for the company. I will complete Cert IV to open up more possibilities in future, but at the moment I haven't given much thought to doing anything different.

Interview by Brooke Hunter


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