Having fully completed his professional electrician course, ex-rugby player and Access Academies student Xavier Rush has now turned his attention towards retraining in a second trade and begun a plumbing training course with us. We caught up with him during the fourth week of his six week course to find out how he's getting on and how the plumbing training has differed from his previous experience with the electrical training course. One thing's for sure, it's a very different experience to playing rugby for both the All Blacks and Cardiff Blues...

How are you finding the change from electrical work to a plumbing course?

It’s definitely the most practical I’ve done so far! There was a lot of theory with the electric but theory there is here is probably a lot easier to grasp. But then it’s also far more hands on too. It’s very busy – we’ve been working with low carbon steel and a lot of copper as well. I fitted a bathroom last week which was enjoyable – it’s nice to step back and see the results sometimes.

But a lot like the electric these are intense course and you pick up a lot of information and skills quickly. It helps that you’re learning from people who’ve been in the industry a long time.

Had you done any plumbing before starting the course?

No, before this I didn’t have a thing – I couldn’t even stop a leak. You’ve got to pick it up quite quickly as there’s no one there holding your hand. Once you’ve got an understanding of it all it gets a lot easier. It’s just knowing what fittings do what and what products you’re working with, that sort of thing.

Have you found anything especially difficult over the last four weeks?

I suppose it just takes you a while before you get competent with everything really. Nothing is truly mind boggling. There were a few issues fitting a bath, but it’s the kind of stuff you can get your head around.

How have the tutors been?

They’ve been great and a really big help this week especially. They don’t baby you at all, but make sure to tell you exactly where you’ve gone wrong – which is exactly what they need to do. If you were working in someone’s house and you spring a leak and their lounge ceiling falls in you’re going to be in trouble. So you’ve just got to know. It’s just like anything – the more you practice you have, the better you get. Its good being here because if you’re going to make mistakes make them here, that way I can waste your copper rather than mine!

How have you found the studying at home element of the course?

Like I said, you are picking up a lot of information in a short time so while you’re here you’ve really got to apply yourself for the six weeks. There’s a lot of going home, revising, getting ready for exams because if you don’t do the homework you don’t get the passes. You have got to read the book and retain that information. I’ve had many a late night drinking coffees at Starbucks looking like a bit of a geek.

And finally, how much time do you have left here before you’re all done?

I’ve got two more weeks after Christmas. It’s been an intense four weeks so it’ll be nice to have a bit of a break and then come back and hit it again. Because we’ve done so much over the last few weeks and put so many fittings together you should be able to retain a lot of the information. And then after that that’ll be it for me…for now! I might come back and do the one week electrical testing course just to freshen up on that. But it’s just brilliant to come here and reskill so quickly as an older person. I did carpentry when I left school but to think now I’ve got plumbing and electric qualifications backing that up. And to feel confident with that within ten weeks is berserk really – they’re skills you’ve obviously got for life.

I can look at stuff in houses now and understand it. Obviously it doesn’t give you all the experience – you’re still going to go out there and make mistakes but it’s given me a really good grasp of both industries, both the electric and the plumbing.

As Xavier approaches the end of his Access Academies training, we'll be talking to him again in the new year to discuss his overall experiences and his plans for the future. In the meantime if you have any questions you'd like to ask him about changing careers and retraining in a new trade, please let us know over on Twitter or Facebook. If you yourself would like more information on Access' extensive range of trades training courses (also including gas engineering, carpentry, bricklaying, plastering, tiling and painting/decorating), please get in contact with one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

An ex All-Black and Cardiff Blues captain, former rugby player Xavier Rush is currently training here at Access Training after retiring from sports and deciding to earn the qualifications to start a new career in property development. After completing an intenstive kitchen fitting course, he has decided to continue his training and earn additional qualifications in electrics and plumbing. We caught up with him again as he progressed through the professional electrician's course to see how he's getting on with starting his new life...

Xavier Rush hard at workSo how has your electrical training been going so far?

Busy, very busy! But good – I’ve been doing my Part P and 17th Edition, had an exam yesterday which I passed so I’m very happy about that. I wasn’t looking forward to doing a resit on Friday so I’m glad I’ve managed to avoid that. But it’s an intense course this one, and you don’t have much time to muck around. It’s intense, but its short and you get a lot of information which is great.

How have you found the balance between theory and practical learning?

You’re getting a good mix of both here. I think Martin [One of the electrical tutors] teaches it very well. I’ve enjoyed his style and the environment of working with all the other students as well. We come from all walks of life and backgrounds, but we’ve all got that one common goal of getting our qualifications. And we’re all here to learn, it’s very different to school – everyone’s here because they want to be here.

How has the electrical course compared to the kitchen fitting you were doing previously?

Kitchen fitting and carpentry is a lot more hands-on, which I’m more used to. The electrics is where you have to get the old brain working in gear. It’s been a while since I’ve had to sit in a classroom but again as I said Martin makes it interesting and mixes it up. And that’s helped us all.

Did you find you were fully prepared for the exams?

Well it’s a two and a half/three week course, so you’ve just got to make sure that you keep yourself pretty quiet over these weeks so at the end of it you get the pass mark. The first exam wasn’t bad at all but this one...it was an open book exam with the regs but it can be tricky. Its multiple choice (or multiple guess in some situations!) but I feel we covered it well in our teachings and you’ve just got to know your way around the book really.

We all passed in our class so we must have been fairly well prepared, especially when you never know what they’re going to chuck out at you. Every exam is different from everyone else’s.

So what will you be moving onto next?

I’m doing my PAT testing now, then have a nice week’s break and come back and nail my plumbing. I’m over the moon that I’m now a qualified domestic installer than can self-certify my own work. If you look at apprenticeships when I was finishing school that would have been a seven year course and even at the end you might not know as much as you’re given here. You’d have a fair bit of experience on the job but you’re in a good position to move on now and either do your own work if you feel confident enough or work for someone for a while before that.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone thinking of doing an electrical course or even completely changing careers like you have?

They need to remember that the courses are intense – you learn a lot of information so you want to make sure you go home, you get your sleep, your rest and your revision. Because you are slamming a lot of information into a small amount of time so you want to make sure you take in as much of it as possible. It’s a fun, enjoyable environment to learn in and the tutors. You’re learning from top guys so it’s been well worth the experience.

If you’ve wanted a career and want more of a hands-on trade and a change from what you’ve been doing I definitely recommend it. I certainly wouldn’t be here if I thought it was a waste of time. This is a great environment to come in and start.

We'll be catching up with Xavier Rush again after his week off, so if you have any questions you'd like to ask him please let us know via Twitter or Facebook. If you would like more information on taking the steps to change your career and become a professional tradesperson, please get in contact with one of our course advisers. Access Training offer courses in plumbing, electric, gas and construction (plastering, tiling, carpentry and painting & decoration) and they'd be happy to answer any questions. You can contact them on 088 345 7492.

As a former All Black and Cardiff Blues rugby team captain, 36-year old Xavier Rush is someone sports fans have probably heard of. But after a successful sporting career at both domestic and international levels he’s finally hanging his boots up and moving on to the next stage of his life. Choosing to retrain to become a fully-fledged property developer, he approached Access Training Academies and recently completed our kitchen fitting course. Now he’s moving on toward even more qualifications to expand his trade resume and take on even more work.

We sat down with his to discuss his plans for the future and how he’s finding the change from a ball to a toolkit...

Now that you’ve retired, what’s next for Xavier Rush?

Now that I’ve finished my rugby career I knew I obviously needed to retrain in something. I’ve always enjoyed properties and doing them up so I’ve come here to get as many strings to my bow as possible. The more I can do the less people I’d need to get in for jobs and the less I’d need to pay out.

I first did carpentry when I was 18 and had just left school, but it’s great to have a facility so close to me and the speed at which you can build your skills up. I originally came to do kitchen fitting which I’ve completed, but there’s the Part P electrical component to it too which I’m doing now for the next two and a half weeks. After that I plan to crack on and do six weeks of plumbing as well!

How has the course been so far?

I’ve been really enjoying it and the tutors have been excellent. There’s always some things that you’re better at than others – some of the bends in the plumbing took some time to get my head around. But the more practice you have the better you get at it. You aren’t going to sail through every day – some days are worse than others but you often find once you’ve slept on it, you come back the next day and get it. It’s great to be learning new skills and really refreshing to have a change of career. A lot of people get a bit scared but I’m really looking forward to it – it’s life after rugby for me.

Will you miss the rugby life?

Of course there’s always aspects you will miss – the getting up for a big game like a Heineken Cup match, playing in front of a big crowd. I’ll miss those moments but there’s enough of them in the memory bank to call on every now and then. It’s nice to be on the other side of it now and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my career. I feel quite fortunate – it was a fairly long career and now I’m more excited about getting things started with my own business. It’s just time to move forward with life.

Look forward to more updates from Xavier Rush, who will be sharing his training experiences with us each week as he works towards his new qualifications. In the meantime if you have any questions you'd like to ask him about turning towards a brand new career, let us know on Twitter or Facebook and we'll pass the best ones onto him.