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Father son duo tapping into greater levels of success

Having completed a short course in Restricted Electrical Licence Skill Set thanks to funding from Constructions Skills Queensland, Ben has taken dad Phil under his apprenticeship wings and together, this dynamic duo are now plumbing greater levels of success in what is a very bright future.

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and once you sit down and chat with the highly affable and engaging Ben Hughes, you’ll quickly see why he’s just a chip off the old(er) block that is dad, Phil Hughes, who’s equally spirited and a larrikin.

Having recently completed a short course in SSUEE0010 Restricted Electrical Licence (REL) Skill Set thanks to the Constructions Skills Queensland funding he successfully applied for, Ben’s future and plumbing business has never looked brighter.

A professionally qualified plumber, Ben first trained for and gained his CPC32420 Certificate III in Plumbing at TAFE Queensland East Coast more than ten years ago and then went on to build his business, Hughes Plumbing, from scratch.

Always one to push and challenge himself, Ben followed this up a few years later by going on to complete the CPC40920 Certificate IV in Plumbing and Services.

It’s safe to say then that Ben, a proud Turrbul and Yuggera First Nations person and father of two girls, has become a bit of a fan of TAFE Queensland.

“I really enjoyed my previous TAFE Queensland studies and I chose to do the short course at TAFE Queensland this time around not only because I’m engaged with ongoing learning and development but also because I wanted to upskill on a different level while gaining another qualification,” Ben said.

“This course is a perfect combo of online and in-class learning that’s supported by great and very experienced teachers which suits a business owner and busy dad like me down to a tee.”

Running a busy family-operated business that employs four people which includes dad Phil and serves clients from as far as Bundaberg and Gympie across to Warwick and Toowoomba down to the Gold Coast, certainly keeps Ben on his toes.

With over 2200 clients on their books, Hughes Plumbing often gets asked to connect or replace hot water units as part of their service.

“Safety is our biggest priority so it’s really important that we do this job safely and properly and that’s another reason I highly recommend this short course,” Ben said.

“Without this qualification, our customers would have to engage a third party to hook up their hot water system.

“We work in such a geographically diverse area that we have to have this skill as sparkies aren’t always readily available, especially in rural and remote places.”

Both Ben and Phil are proudly TAFE Queensland trained and qualified plumbers although in a reversal of ‘like father, like son’, it’s Ben who is the boss and employer of Phil, and who inspired dad to pursue a career change.

Now a self-declared ‘proud and qualified tradie’, Phil was working as a labourer mending fences before he decided the physically demanding work was too much of a struggle and he needed to change his career prospects.

“I found fence mending tough as I got older and watching Ben grow his business and seeing it go from strength to strength made me realise there was a more viable future in being a plumber,” Phil said.

“So the decision to pick up some new skills, switch careers and study with TAFE Queensland wasn’t a hard one and I haven’t looked back since, especially now that I’m a third year apprentice at Hughes Plumbing.

“While studying as a mature aged student has been hard because technology has changed so much, I’ve really enjoyed the challenge – the younger students, despite the odd joke, have been very patient with me and the teachers are fantastic and so encouraging.”

So impressed was he by Ben’s experience at TAFE Queensland that Phil, keen to follow in his son’s footsteps, has also joined the growing ranks of aspiring plumbers training at TAFE Queensland’s Nambour campus by completing the CPC32420 Certificate III in Plumbing.

Like Ben, Phil is keen to strengthen his qualification and has just started training for the CPC40920 Certificate IV in Plumbing and Services and will back it up by doing the SSUEE0010 Restricted Electrical Licence (REL) Skill Set short course afterwards too.

While Ben has worked hard to grow his business and enjoys the diversity of his work, he’s not resting on his laurels just yet, with the goals of expanding his team (“but not so big that we aren’t a family business anymore”), becoming more tech savvy, and achieving repeat business very much at the forefront of his plans.

Ben encourages people of all ages to consider a career in plumbing as it’s a job that offers variety, technical and creative problem solving, and plenty of customer service and relationship building.

As for Phil, we’ll leave him with the last word: “It’s been pretty special watching Ben grow from a little person who’s now running his own business and looking after our customers while supporting me.

“What I really like about our job is the trust that our customers place in us to help them fix whatever problem they have and for me, that is a real privilege.”

To find out how you can also pursue a career in plumbing, visit or call 1300 308 233 for more information and let TAFE Queensland help you define your greatness.