Award-winning apprentice James McCall-Smith is joining forces with WaterSafe to promote modern apprenticeships during National Apprenticeship Week, from 4 to 8 March.

This week, WaterSafe is advising 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.

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 said: “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.”

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