How Essential Skills Profiles can help you!
The essential skills profiles can:
- Help determine, based on skill sets, which career may best suit a particular individual.
- Assist job seekers to write a résumé or prepare for a job interview.
- Help employers to create a job posting.
Employers place a strong emphasis on essential skills in the workplace. Essential skills are used in nearly every occupation, and are seen as 'building blocks' because people build on them to learn all other skills.
Each profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skill is generally performed by the majority of workers in an occupation. The estimated complexity levels for each task, between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced), may vary based on the requirements of the workplace.
Plumbers install, repair and maintain pipes, fixtures and other plumbing equipment used for water distribution and waste water disposal in residential, commercial and industrial buildings.
- Read short text entries on forms, such as work orders and log books. (1)
- Read bulletins and notices, e.g. read bulletins to learn about changes to operating procedures and read notices to learn about product recalls. (2)
- Read workplace safety materials, e.g. read Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to understand the chemical composition of products and possible hazards. (2)
- Read a variety of installation procedures, e.g. read manufacturers' instructions when installing new plumbing fixtures. (2)
- May read magazine and website articles to stay current on industry trends and broaden their knowledge of plumbing techniques and materials. (3)
- Read occupational health and safety standards, e.g. read rules to learn how to work safely in confined spaces. (3)
- Read a variety of manuals to learn how to install, repair and maintain plumbing fixtures and systems. (3)
- Read trade textbooks, e.g. read textbooks to understand the acceptable use of materials and science related to plumbing, such as the properties of water, metals and alloys. (4)
- Read the Canadian Plumbing Code to learn the regulations that govern the design, construction, extension, alteration, renewal or repair of plumbing systems. (4)
- Observe hazard and safety icons, e.g. scan icons affixed to products, such as flux-core solders, to learn about their toxic properties. (1)
- Enter and locate data, such as dates and identification numbers, in labels and tags. (1)
- Complete a variety of checklists and forms, e.g. complete hazard assessment forms and purchase orders by checking boxes and entering data, such as dates, times and quantities. (2)
- Study a variety of assembly drawings, e.g. study assembly drawings to learn how to install fixtures and appliances. (2)
- Locate data in a variety of complex tables, e.g. locate data, such as dimensions, classifications, tolerances, coefficients, identification numbers and quantities, in specification tables. (3)
- Interpret a variety of construction drawings, e.g. scan construction drawings to learn how plumbing, electrical, carpentry and mechanical installations are to coordinate. (4)
- Interpret a variety of complex schematic drawings, e.g. scan schematics to locate circuits, flows and capacities when planning for complex plumbing installations of piping. (4)
- Write reminders and short notes to customers and co-workers, e.g. write short notes to inform supervisors about repairs in-progress and tasks to be completed. (1)
- Write short comments in forms and log books, e.g. write comments in order forms to specify part requirements. (1)
- May describe project details on estimate sheets and work orders, e.g. explain the plumbing tasks to be performed on job estimates. (2)
- May write reports to describe events leading up to workplace accidents, e.g. write about injuries and events when completing reports for workers' compensation boards. (2)
- May receive cash, debit and credit card payments and make change. (1)
- Take a variety of measurements using basic tools, e.g. measure the lengths and diameters of pipes using tape measures. (1)
- Compare measurements to specifications, e.g. compare pressure gauge readings to required manufacturers' standards. (1)
- May approve payment for invoices submitted by suppliers, verifying the accuracy of the charges for parts ordered and received. (2)
- May schedule the completion of complex plumbing projects by considering project tasks, lead times and the availability of labour and parts. (2)
- Use formulae, e.g. use formulae to calculate the total falls on drain lines. (2)
- Calculate material requirements, e.g. calculate the amount of material, such has valves, connectors and piping, needed to complete projects. (2)
- Calculate averages from sets of readings to determine if humidity, temperature and water pressure are within levels recommended by manufacturers. (2)
- May estimate the material requirements for projects. They consider project scopes and the materials needed for similar jobs in the past. (2)
- Estimate the length of time it will take to complete projects. They consider projects and the availability of materials and labour. (2)
- May calculate amounts for estimates and invoices. They multiply hours worked by labour rates and add amounts for materials, supplies and applicable taxes. (3)
- Calculate loads, e.g. calculate the total hydraulic loads on sanitary drainage systems using Canadian Plumbing Code conversion factors and variables, such as fixture units. (3)
- Analyze multiple pressure readings to evaluate plumbing system functions and troubleshoot faults, e.g. compare measurements of pressure to calculated or predicted values at various points in a system to identify the location of leaks. (3)
- Calculate rolling offsets to design, fabricate and install piping around obstacles. (4)
- Speak with suppliers to learn about products, prices and delivery schedules. (1)
- Discuss specifications, timelines, procedures, expectations and other work-related matters with co-workers and other tradespeople, e.g. speak with forepersons about job assignments and with other tradespeople to co-ordinate activities and schedules. (2)
- May talk to customers to respond to questions and complaints, gather information about needed repairs, explain plumbing procedures and discuss the results of inspections and repairs. (2)
- Talk to building inspectors, engineers and architects, e.g. speak with Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) representatives about system certification requirements. (2)
- May provide detailed step-by-step instructions to apprentices, customers and other tradespeople, e.g. explain to apprentices the steps to install water heaters. (3)
- Encounter delays due to equipment breakdowns and shortages of materials. They inform others about the delays and perform other work until repairs are completed and needed materials arrive. (1)
- Miss deadlines when tasks extend beyond time estimates for completion. They may consult with their supervisors and customers to reschedule work and work overtime as required. (1)
- Decide order of tasks and their priorities, e.g. decide the order in which to install fixtures and test systems. (2)
- Choose tools, methods and products for plumbing installations and repairs, e.g. consider project scopes and the availability of materials and labour. (2)
- Evaluate the safety of work sites. They consider the hazards of working from heights and in confined spaces. (2)
- Evaluate the preparedness of job sites for plumbing installations. They consider the adequacy of access to work areas and protection from inclement weather. (2)
- Clarify installation procedures by referring to the Canadian Plumbing Code and job specification books and by talking to mechanical engineers, suppliers and manufacturers. (2)
- Locate information on plumbing products and fixtures by conducting Web research and by reading catalogues issued by suppliers. (2)
- Refer to schematics and speak with general contractors to locate system components, such as gas flow shut-off valves. (2)
- Refer to trade, provincial and national code books to ensure installations and repairs are compliant with industry standards for plumbing and heating systems. (2)
- Face disruptions of work schedules, timelines and budgets when project designs are found to be faulty and when specifications change after projects have already started. They assist in the development of new designs and perform other work until the project starts. (3)
- May select materials and suppliers, e.g. decide which brand and type of materials to use by considering specifications, warranties, costs and ease of use. (3)
- Assess the quality of plumbing installations and repairs. They take measurements, observe the appearance joints and check for signs of leaks. (3)
- Plan their work in conjunction with forepersons, supervisors and other tradespeople on the job. Time pressures may become intense and interruptions from others result in frequent stops and starts. They reprioritize their tasks to accommodate emergencies and make adjustments to project timelines. Job task planning and organizing differs according to the work context. In the case of residential service appointments, there may be 10 to 15 service calls in one shift. Planning and organizing must take into account the distance between customer locations and the urgency of specific calls. When working on new construction projects, job task planning and organizing is geared towards fitting smoothly into a schedule that involves other trades coming before and after them. Plumbers work both independently and in co-operation with other tradespeople on job sites. (3)
- Use calculators and personal digital assistant (PDA) devices to complete numeracy-related tasks, such as calculating material requirements. (1)
- May use word processing software to write letters to customers and prepare job estimates and invoices. (2)
- May use spreadsheet software to tally costs for job estimates and invoices. (2)
- May use billing and accounting software to input and track sales, produce invoices and estimates and print reports, such as income and expense statements. (2)
- May use communication software to exchange email with customers, suppliers and co-workers. (2)
- May use computer-assisted design (CAD) software to access, modify and print technical drawings. (2)
- May use databases to enter and retrieve project information. (2)
- May use databases to retrieve and print scale and assembly diagrams. (2)
- May use the Internet to access training courses and seminars offered by apprenticeship trainers, associations, unions, suppliers and employers. (2)
- May use internet browsers and search engines to access technical service bulletins, plumbing codes, specifications and troubleshooting guides. (2)
- May use online plumbing software to streamline their scheduling, dispatching and routing activities. (2)
- May use project management software for complex equipment installations to schedule lead times and the completion of project milestones. (3)
Working with Others
The degree to which plumbers work with others depends on the specific setting in which they work. On construction sites, plumbers must co-ordinate with other trades onsite as there is an order in which the work should be performed and safety is always a concern. For example, during installation they complete the rough in and then return to complete the finishing after other trades (e.g. plasterers, tilesetters) have completed their work. Plumbers frequently work with an apprentice. Plumbers servicing residential clients typically work with others to a lesser extent. They often work alone on small residential jobs.
Although the fundamentals of plumbing remain constant, the nature of the plumbing occupation is changing, resulting in a corresponding need for continuous learning. For example, changes to the Canadian Plumbing Code periodically modify procedures for the installation of piping systems. Advances in technology are also having a significant impact on trade procedures. For example, the use of computer-assisted design (CAD) software is required in some jurisdictions. Advances in technology are also changing the design, applications and materials of systems. Technical courses may be offered when new products, procedures and equipment are introduced. Apprentices learn through a combination of classroom training delivered by community colleges and on-the-job training. In unionized environments, they are paired with journeypersons according to ratios defined in collective agreements. Journeyperson upgrading programs are often offered by joint apprenticeship and training committees with a focus on both classroom and hands-on training. An increased emphasis on worker health and safety means that related training is often mandatory for both apprentices and journeypersons. Many plumbers stay current by reading trade magazines.
Impact of Digital Technology
All essential skills are affected by the introduction of technology in the workplace. Plumbers' ability to adapt to new technologies is strongly related to their skill levels across the essential skills, including reading, writing, thinking and communication skills. Technologies are transforming the ways in which workers obtain, process and communicate information, and the types of skills needed to perform in their jobs. In particular, the use of technology, such as computer-assisted design (CAD) software for system design, layout and project management, is increasing. Self-employed plumbers may also require a broad range of computer skills to operate software applications that help them bill and communicate with customers, track costs and revenues and produce financial summaries. Digital technologies also provide workers with tools, such as cellular telephones, which increase opportunities for verbal interaction and improve workplace safety. For example, workers working independently in remote locations can access customers, supervisors and medical assistance using their cell phones.
Technology in the workplace further affects the complexity of tasks related to the essential skills required for this occupation. For example, sophisticated plumbing installations have increased the complexity of schematics and other diagrams. In contrast, electronic databases, CD-ROMs and keyword search functions make it easier to find information, such as diagrams specifications. Not only can workers complete documents (e.g. work orders) with speed and accuracy using specialized software applications that input data automatically, but they can also calculate costs, material requirements, conversions, electrical resistance, volumes, rates and offsets using Web-based applications, specialized plumbing software and hand-held devices, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs).