Award-Winning Apprentice Encourages Future Plumbers to Earn While They Learn for National Apprenticeship Week

Getting paid to learn, the prospect of a secure job and not graduating with a large debt are just three of the reasons which led James McCall-Smith to an apprenticeship in plumbing.

Award-winning apprentice James is joining forces with WaterSafe, the UK register of approved plumbers, to promote Modern Apprenticeships during National Apprenticeship Week, from March 4 to 8.

James says: “I’m in my fourth and final year of my apprenticeship, which I’m spending on the tools with my employer Derek Scott Plumbing & Heating. The first three years were a combination of college study and work-based training the mix works well and kept me engaged and motivated – although I prefer tools to textbooks!

“Getting paid to learn is a huge plus for me – you don’t finish your training with a large debt. A good employer will look after you and often give you a job at the end of your apprenticeship. It gives you a sense of security.”

James says he loves the broad variety of work in plumbing but was never tempted by the fast-track courses: “There’s no substitute for proper training and you won’t gain the right qualifications without it. What you learn on the job you won’t always find in a textbook.”

James, who was crowned champion of the plumbing competition SkillPLUMB at WorldSkills UK Live last year, is completing his apprenticeship with a WaterSafe-approved business.

He says: “Having WaterSafe approval reassures your customers – after all, people’s health can be at stake so it’s important to be fully qualified and registered.”

WaterSafe advises future plumbers in England to avoid fast-track courses and work towards the

new apprenticeships developed for plumbing and domestic heating which automatically lead to a level 3 qualification.

By choosing an apprenticeship with a recognised training provider, future plumbers will:

  • combine practical hands-on experience with their studies
  • receive a regular salary with a contract of employment and holiday leave
  • steer clear of rogue trainers and fast-track courses
  • gain industry-approved qualifications.

And James’ advice for young people considering an apprenticeship in plumbing? “Get your CV out there and don’t be afraid to approach people directly – be proactive and enthusiastic, take the initiative. I did lots of research online and got to know all about the local companies.”

To find out more about training to be a plumber and for the qualifications you need to become WaterSafe approved visit

For information on apprenticeships visit:

Regional Information:

Northern Ireland - National Apprenticeship Week 2019

Scotland - National Apprenticeship Week 2019

Wales - National Apprenticeship Week 2019

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