Fisherman turned plumber is named Apprentice of the Year

SWITCHING from fishing to plumbing has proved a successful move for Koen Le Prevost, leading to a more reliable income and recognition as Guernsey’s Apprentice of the Year.

The award was announced at a ceremony this week, with Mr Le Prevost becoming the first plumber to win the accolade since 2008.

‘Everyone knows fishing isn’t always the most stable job,’ he said.

‘And I knew I needed to work on my people skills and being sociable and things like that, so it really helped getting to meet different people all the time and doing different tasks. I definitely see this as being my future.’

As with the other 10 candidates for the award, Mr Le Prevost first had to be nominated by his employer while in the final year of his apprenticeship.

Ross Alexander started his company with an ambition of being attentive to his customer base, which led to him working more than 100 hours a week over the first 18 months or so.

‘Koen’s been fantastic,’ Mr Alexander said.

‘He’s stuck by my side every step of the way and he had that built into him from being a fisherman. He built up skills in one year that would normally take up to two-and-a-half years to acquire.’

Mr Alexander, who was himself an apprentice with Smith & Tanguy, said plumbers had not seen very many apprentices coming through in recent years and he hoped this award might prompt a few more to consider the trade.

‘Plumbing’s not easy. It can be very stressful at times but also really rewarding.

‘It’s a very, very, varied job and you can earn potentially as much money as a decent banker can. You just have to be practically minded.’

All the candidates had to have their nomination approved by their College of Further Education tutor and then had to talk about their work in an interview with a panel including the college principal Louise Misselke.

Director of apprenticeships Chris Torode said there was some rivalry among the 17 departments offering professional and technical education at the college, with plumbing being the section to celebrate this year. However, he said there was a shared determination to maintain a skills base on the island and respond to industry’s needs. A significant factor in that ambition, he said, was expanding provision in the new Guernsey Institute facility intended for construction at Les Ozouets, which will be debated by the States in July, as part of plans for the future of secondary education.

‘I’m really optimistic,’ he said.

‘I think the provision of a new training facility for apprentices is long overdue and the formation of the new Guernsey Institute provides us with the opportunity to realise that dream.’

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