UK woman, 25, who bought her own house at 21 encourages more women to take up trades

Rachel Griffiths on her TikTok
Photo credit: @plumbingbyrach / TikTok

A young woman who bought her own home at the age of 21 has revealed how she managed to afford the milestone, noting that people are consistently surprised when she tells them her line of work.

Rachel Griffiths, a 25-year-old from Connah's Quay, North Wales who bought her own home four years ago, is earning a good living after taking up an apprenticeship at 16 - but she still gets questions about her profession.

Griffiths has worked as a plumber for almost 10 years, which she credits to being financially stable enough at 21 to afford a property of her own. She now uses her social media to encourage other young women to take up a trade and join the male-dominated industry, documenting her day-to-day experiences on the job for her 12,500 followers to enjoy.

She also regularly shares content that attempts to debunk the common cliché that women in trade are uninterested in stereotypically 'girly' things such as fashion and makeup, with female plumbers often pigeonholed for their conventionally more masculine profession.

"No one ever expects me to say that I'm a plumber. I would say around 90 percent of customers I visit will mention something about me being a woman and ask me why I do it," Griffiths told NorthWalesLive.

"My appearance doesn't fit the ideal stereotype of what a plumber should be and so people automatically assume that I'm not capable, but I know I'm more than capable, so I don't let it affect me.

"Customers are always inquisitive but generally their reaction to me is positive."

The content creator-cum-plumber is now teaming up with Checkatrade, the UK's leading trade directory, to encourage more women to enter the industry.

"I think schools and colleges firstly need to show it as an option to women and young girls. Going into construction wasn't even discussed by teachers. Even when I went to my college induction for the plumbing course, I was asked if I wanted to look at other course options instead.

"Women are more than capable of working in construction. I have never come across anything that I wasn't able to do because I'm a woman," she added. "No two days are the same and it never gets boring."

According to Careers NZ, plumbers typically earn anywhere between $21 and $53 an hour, and job opportunities are plentiful due to a shortage of workers and strong demand. In New Zealand, between two and four years of training are required.

Apprentice or trainee plumbers usually start on adult minimum wage and can earn up to $39 an hour as they gain skills and unit standards. Newly licensed plumbers usually earn $35 to $42 an hour, while licensed and experienced plumbers can earn between $45 and $53 an hour. About 90 percent of plumbers and gasfitters are self-employed or work for small companies with up to five employees.

Plumbers currently appear on Immigration New Zealand's construction and infrastructure skill shortage list, which means the Government is actively encouraging skilled plumbers from overseas to work in New Zealand.