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The Corporation

Posted: 02/06/16

Students excel in regional skills competition

Two computer science students at West Nottinghamshire College are celebrating success in a regional skills competition designed to test would-be IT technicians.

WorldSkills competitors Edwin (left) and Tom show-off their IT technician skills at college.

Edwin Jowett and Tom Hardwick, both 18, achieved top-three positions in the qualifying heats of the WorldSkills UK IT Support Technician competition held at Grimsby Institute last month (Friday 20 May).

One of 11 regional heats across the UK, it saw nine competitors from West Notts, Chesterfield College and Grimsby Institute battle it out against-the-clock in a series of complex computer-related challenges.

The competition is designed to test students’ essential skills for a career as an IT support technician, who typically operate on the front-line repairing and configuring PCs, routers and networks for clients.

They had just four hours to complete tasks such as building PCs, installing a Windows operating system, configuring hardware and software, and connecting the computers to wireless and wired networks.

Edwin, from Edwinstowe, came first in the prestigious event while classmate Tom, from Kirkby-in-Ashfield, took third place.

It followed an intensive 10-week training programme by tutors Aaron Hulka, Scott Marshall and Sanjay Chauhan to prepare the duo – who study the BTEC Level 3 Diploma in IT (Networking and Systems Support) – for the challenge ahead.

The contest was made even tougher for Edwin, who competed despite feeling unwell on the day.

He said: “I was physically shaking to begin with because I had flu-like symptoms and felt quite ill. This made it more difficult to focus, and it took me a bit longer to complete some of the tasks than I would’ve liked, but I was determined to do my best.

“Although the competition was quite hard, the training really helped. It’s amazing that I’ve won; I’m still surprised by it.”

Tom, who is currently enjoying a work placement with the college’s IT support team alongside his studies, said: “It was a lot more difficult than what we’d prepared for and I had to keep reading through the tasks so that I understood them – then it sunk in that I needed to get a move on!

“I’m really happy I came third because I wasn’t sure I’d performed well enough, so it was great when my name was read out. I’d love the opportunity to compete in the national finals and show what I can really do.”

Computing tutor Aaron Hulka said: “We’re really proud of what Edwin and Tom have achieved. They put their hearts and souls into the training and came out on top, like we knew they would.

“The competition is hugely pressurised but they both kept their heads and remembered what they had learnt, and the results have justified their efforts.

“They’re a credit to the college, their families and themselves.”

WorldSkills regional heats are held in colleges, workplaces and at trade events across the UK from April to July each year.

Edwin and Tom are now eagerly waiting to discover whether they will progress to the national finals, held at The Skills Show – the country’s largest skills and careers event – from 17-19 November at the NEC Birmingham. The highest-scoring competitors from the various heats are invited to take part in the UK finals, with a chance to challenge for a place on

Team UK to compete in WorldSkills 2017 in Dubai.

The college is no stranger to success in the WorldSkills UK IT competitions, with students Kalum Pepperday and Andy Gardner having won the IT Support Technician and Network System Administrator regional heats respectively last year.