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The Corporation

Posted: 25/04/13

College builds on competition success

West Nottinghamshire College has cemented its best-ever results in the UK’s biggest construction skills competition.

On Tuesday (23 April) the college hosted the East Midlands regional heats of SkillBuild 2013.

Aimed at finding Britain’s best trainee tradesperson, it saw 120 students from 20 colleges  compete in a wide range of craft-based challenges including bricklaying, cabinet-making, carpentry, joinery, plastering, painting and decorating, and floor and wall tiling.

For the first time there were new entrant and senior categories across all trades to encourage those that have not entered a skills competition before to take part.

Four of the 11 students entered by the college achieved top three positions in their respective categories – double last year’s total – with two taking top spot.

Scott Jacques, 22, came first in the plastering new entrant category while Ben Thompson, 19, took third place in the joinery senior section.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Edwards, 23, celebrated coming first in painting and decorating at new entrant level, with fellow student 24-year-old Frankie Hawson coming second in the same category.

Nicholas, from Mansfield, said: “As I looked at the other competitors’ work, I didn’t think I stood any chance of winning and resigned myself to thinking they were better than me.

“I was speechless when my name was announced as winner and I don’t think it’s properly sunk in just yet!”

Having just two days to prepare for the competition made Frankie’s achievement doubly impressive.

The 24-year-old, also from Mansfield, said: “I only entered at the eleventh hour, which meant I had just two days of training and preparation.

“I thought I’d be nervous competing as I’m not used to so many people watching me but I just focused on what I needed to do.

“I’m hoping to compete in the senior category next time.  If I can come second with very little time to prepare, I’d hope to go one better with a full training programme under my belt.”

The regional heats involve students working on test plans which take a day to complete, with the highest scorers from the senior categories put forward to compete in the national final.

Although the college had no winners at senior level, head of construction and building services Julian Walden said this year’s achievements were an “excellent platform to build on”.

Mr Walden said: “These are our best results yet in terms of the number of winners and runner-ups. Taking top spot in the plastering new entrant category is especially pleasing considering this is the first year we’ve run plastering courses.

“Success in SkillBuild shows we’re attracting talented students who aspire to be the very best they can be in their chosen craft, which means they will stand out from the crowd and ultimately become more employable.”

Organised by the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board), SkillBuild has been running for more than 20 years as a way of recognising the importance of trainees and their skills.

It is the third successive year the college has hosted the event at its Construction and Logistics Skills Academy in Kirkby-in-Ashfield.  Last year West Notts students Anna Lodge and Rebecca Harrington took first and third place respectively in the new entrant painting and decorating category.