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The Corporation

Posted: 26/11/15

College students named amongst the best in the UK

A pair of West Nottinghamshire College students are celebrating after being named amongst the best in the country for their vocational talents – with one now having the chance to represent the UK on the world stage.

WorldSkills UK medal-winners Kalum (left) and Stefan celebrate their competition success.

Stefan Hubble and Kalum Pepperday scooped silver and bronze medals respectively in the WorldSkills UK competition finals, held as part of The Skills Show from 19 to 21 November at the NEC Birmingham.

It saw hundreds of competitors battling it out in specially-devised challenges across a range of disciplines, demonstrating their skills and knowledge in front of an audience of 75,000 people attending the nation’s largest skills and careers event.

Apprentice Stefan, of Edwinstowe, came second in the advanced painting and decorating category after going head-to-head with 11 fellow competitors in a hard-fought contest to produce a vibrant and colourful rugby stadium design on a blank wall to mark the recent 2015 Rugby World Cup. Each finalist was given 19 hours over three days to produce the finished article, which involved stencilling, drawing, cutting-out designs, painting, glossing and hanging wallpaper.

The 26-year-old, who studies the Level 3 Diploma in Painting and Decorating, was one of only a few that managed to complete the task within the strict timescales – producing a stunning piece of work that earned him a deserved runner-up spot.

Stefan, an apprentice painter and decorator at Sharpline Decorators, based in Edwinstowe, said: “It was a tough task and I was up against some really talented tradespeople, but it was good fun and I made some great friends while doing it.

“I went into the competition hoping to win a medal, so I’m very pleased with a silver. It means all the hard work and training I’ve put into the competition has been worth it.

“I was full of pride when my name was read out and it’s great to know I’ve made everybody who’s supported me – my employer, college tutors, friends and family – equally proud.”

Computer science student Kalum came third in the advanced IT support technician category after wowing judges with his technical ability.

Competing with seven other finalists, the 17-year-old performed a range of tasks – from building computers and setting-up servers and networks, to configuring operating systems and installing hardware – before writing an essay to demonstrate his subject knowledge. They had just 10 hours to complete the challenge over two days.

Kalum, from Mansfield, said: “It was quite a pressurised situation, especially competing against the clock. It really pushes you, which is a good thing, although it’s not easy to do everything quite as perfectly as you’d want to. It’s a case of getting your head down, blocking everything else out and doing your best.”

In a major accomplishment by the teenager, Kalum has learned that his success has won him a coveted place in Squad UK, with a chance of going on to represent Britain in WorldSkills 2017 in Abu Dhabi. Billed as the biggest international skills competition on the planet, it takes place every two years and sees finalists from each nation battling it out to be crowned the world’s elite.

Kalum will now join other squad members in taking part in a training and development programme to determine eventual selection for Team UK – the ‘best of the best’ who will compete for glory in the United Arab Emirates.

The Level 3 Extended Diploma in IT (Networking and System Support) student said: “I’m really excited by the prospect of representing the UK in WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017. Making the final cut won’t be easy and I’ll face immense competition from other medal-winners, but I’m determined to give it my all.”

Carol Stott, chair of educational organisation Find a Future, which runs WorldSkills UK and The Skills Show, said: “I offer my congratulations to every young person who has earned a place in Squad UK and I wish Kalum the best of luck in his training.”

Also representing the college at the WorldSkills UK national finals in Birmingham were Stuart Peach – a former plastering student who now works as a trowel occupations technician at its construction campus – and ex-computing student Andy Gardner. Stuart was highly-commended in the advanced plastering section while Andy was a finalist in the network system administrator competition.

Deputy principal Patricia Harman said: “Huge congratulations to Stefan and Kalum – they’ve done amazingly well and everybody at the college is really proud of their success. Special congratulations to Kalum on making Squad UK, which is a stunning achievement.

“I’d also like to commend Stuart and Andy on reaching the finals, which is a major feat in itself, while thanking the dedicated staff – Dave Cope, Daniel Mann, David Calladine and Mike Wynn in construction, and Aaron Hulka and Scott Marshall in computer science – for giving up their own time to help train and prepare the competitors.”