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.
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’s 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 watersafe.org.uk/becomeaplumber
For more information on apprenticeships visit gov.uk/topic/further-education-skills/apprenticeships
For information on apprenticeships in Scotland, visit the SNIPEF website at becomeaplumber.com/apprenticeshipsscotland. For Northern Ireland, visit nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/apprenticeships and for Wales, visit www.careerswales.com