Esther Cope is a gas engineer for Yorkshire Housing, who works out in the South Yorkshire area and has worked for the organisation for almost two years. Yorkshire Housing manages or owns 18,000 properties across the region, so it has responsibility to service gas, in those homes with gas appliances, meaning they service up to 10,000 properties a year, with all servicing undertaken by their own gas team.
“…Proving myself hasn’t really an issue within Yorkshire Housing. The guys have been ace and accepted me…”
Becoming a gas engineer
I started working for the manufacturer – Ideal Boilers – in their technical department talking to engineers over the phone and to help them fix boilers. I worked on this for two years, using schematics and product knowledge to answer their problems.
After this, I decided, “why not become qualified and do this myself?” I registered to do a short gas course at Cleckheaton College. I’m now qualified to fix boilers, fires and cookers.
To help create a portfolio I needed to undertake some work experience. My brother-in-law also works as a gas engineer, so I followed him to gain some experience. I completed my portfolio while working with Yorkshire Housing between August and October 2015.
After this, I started working at Yorkshire Housing as an agency worker in November 2015 and I was made permanent in March 2016.
I service and attend breakdowns for gas fires, boilers and occasional ovens. I try to fix any appliance problems which come up. I can attend an average eight jobs a day, with lots of driving across my area. I also provide customer care and talk to customers.
Proving myself hasn’t really an issue within Yorkshire Housing. The guys have been ace and accepted me. This was helped with my knowledge of Ideal Boilers. Yorkshire Housing install and replace a lot of these.
“Oh, I wasn’t expecting a lady!”
At least once a day I hear a customer say: “Oh, I wasn’t expecting a lady!” For the majority I think it’s just a shock. Once they have seen me capable of doing my job and lifting any parts, it’s OK. They’re quite happy, especially the older customers who do spend more time talking to you.
I like fixing things, especially problem jobs which I manage to get fixed. This is good job satisfaction.
Advice to other girls and women
My advice to other girls and women who might be thinking of a career in the trades is: Just do it! There are challenges but if you put your mind to it show your worth and follow through.
On the tools
You never stop learning, especially on gas. There’s always something new to fix or new regulations to adhere to. I always need to develop my knowledge on different boilers and their faults, and so you always need to learn in our job.
Experience-wise, developing into a team leader role isn’t something I’m ready for quite yet. At the moment, I like being on the tools and this is something with more experience I would consider in future. I get a lot of satisfaction fixing appliances.
Coming up next
At Yorkshire Housing there are plans to build 3,000 more homes by 2021, and the business is implementing a change programme. This will potentially mean more gas work. I aim to keep my head down and keep doing a good job.