Carl Yeomanson is Owner and Director of Plumbing & Gas Solutions Limited, which was ten years old in March and employs 16 people. As well as providing unique and bespoke services, Carl is committed to developing the local workforce. Since September, he has attended 11 one-hour ‘Career WorkOut’ sessions, in five MK secondary schools, organised by charity Worktree.
Worktree’s mission is to help young people get ready for work by introducing them to dozens of people with different jobs. Last year, 954 volunteers from 330 MK companies had conversations with more than 8,000 secondary school students in one-hour Career WorkOut sessions. Each session involves 8-12 work guests being interviewed about their experiences of work by small groups of 3-4 students in a carousel of six-minute conversations. There’s no preparation or qualification required, just a willingness to give
“I want to help the young people understand different ways into the construction sector,” says Carl, “including apprenticeships, college and self-study. The opportunities are there.
“When I was at school, I didn’t do as well as I could have. I was more into socialising and playing football. I wanted to be a plumber, but due to a recession I ended up starting out in IT, like my Dad. I spent two years at Yamaha Music, but it just wasn’t what I wanted to do.
“I kept trying to get into plumbing but I found it difficult to get into the industry. I went to numerous interviews, but kept getting turned down because I was a few years older than the 16-year-olds on YTS schemes. I was already completing my plumbing qualifications at evening college but just couldn’t get that break.
“One day I saw a huge fire from my office window and I just thought, I’ll be a fireman then!”
Carl was a fireman at Great Holm fire station for five years before setting up his own plumbing company.
“I started out advertising as ‘the cheapest plumber in MK’ and had so much business from it,” reveals Carl. “ Some of it wasn’t the nicest, but it was all part of the learning curve and helped me to be known! Reputation and image have always been the key elements for me! It put me in a good position to grow a strong business. Very early on I knew I had to be in the commercial plumbing & heating sector - it made best business sense, and that’s exactly where we are now.”
Today Plumbing & Gas Solutions carries out most of its work in and within 20 miles of Milton Keynes and is the main heating and plumbing contractor for several MK primary and secondary schools. “We love working in MK, it’s our home and it’s a great place for business,” Carl says. But that’s not why he chooses to volunteer for Worktree.
“I volunteer for Career WorkOut sessions in schools because anything that helps to improve and strengthen the future of Milton Keynes can only be a positive thing! Talking to teenagers, people with completely different perceptions of the workplace, helps me to continuously evaluate and refocus.
“The first Career WorkOut session I attended was at my old school, St Paul’s Catholic School. Going back to my old school was part of the draw for me, being able to give back wherever I can.
“Listening to the students’ questions and understanding what they wanted to do was intriguing and a really enjoyable experience.
“Sometimes we all move in to autopilot without even realising, and the years roll by. Just stopping, talking to the students, and remembering where it all began, was a real eye opener.
“I’ve encouraged four others from my team to volunteer in Career WorkOut and they’ve all enjoyed it. This kind of volunteering is great fun and gives you a good sense of community spirit.
“Anything I can do to help the next generation prepare for work is well worth my time.”