Dedicated Simon hones carpentry skills to take on world’s best
Young West Wales carpenter Simon McCall’s dedication and commitment to achieving perfection have won him an international medal and a place in the WorldSkills Squad UK.
Simon, 21, who lives in Capel Dewi near Carmarthen, won his place in Squad UK having come through a number of regional and national competitions, the initial entry having been whittled down from 700.
His learning journey has won him a place in the final of this year’s prestigious VQ (Vocational Qualification) Awards in Wales. He is one of six finalists in the running to become VQ Learner of the Year at the showpiece awards ceremony on June 9, the eve of VQ Day, at St David’s Hotel, Cardiff.
Organised by the Welsh Government’s Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) and CollegesWales, the VQ Awards help to showcase individuals and organisations that have raised the standard of the services they offer as a result of vocational qualifications.
The awards, which are part funded by the European Social Fund, are now in their eighth year and coincide with Vocational Qualifications Day – a UK-wide celebration of vocational qualifications for students, teachers, training providers and employers – which is held on June 10.
He was nominated for the award by Paul Evans, co-ordinator of the Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales Project based at Coleg Sir Gâr, Llanelli. He describes Simon as a “totally dedicated young man” whose work ethic has impressed tutors and who is now sharing his skills and experience with learners at the college.
After leaving school, Simon completed a CITB carpentry apprenticeship studying at Coleg Sir Gar and employed by Jones and Johnson, Carmarthen, completing an apprenticeship in carpentry at Coleg Sir Gâr.
He was encouraged to further hone his skills by competing in regional, national and international competitions. In 2013, he won silver medals at both Skills Competition Wales and the WorldSkills UK regional heat and a medallion of excellence at the final held at the Skills Show.
Last year, he won a gold medal at the WorldSkills UK regional heat/ Welsh National Final, was invited to join the UK squad for WorldSkills in Sao Paulo 2015 and was a silver medallist at Euroskills in Lille, France, missing a gold medal by one per cent.
Last year, he won a gold medal at the WorldSkills UK regional heat/ Welsh National Final, and was invited to join the UK squad for WorldSkills in Sao Paulo 2015. He also won a silver medal at Euroskills in Lille, France, missing a gold medal by one per cent.
He became self-employed last October to dedicate more time to training. “It does take a lot of commitment but not many people can say they made it to Squad UK and hold a European medal,” he said.
The other VQ Learner of the Year finalists are: Casey Coleman, 28, salon artistic director at Ocean Hairdressing, Cardiff; James Pepper, 39, technical services director at Vista Retail Support Ltd, Pentwyn, Cardiff; Paul Wiggins, 35, from Cardiff, a chartered insurance broker at BPW Insurance Services, Newport; former Bridgend College learner Michael Whippey, 23, a chief instructor at Shardeloes Farm Equestrian Centre, Amersham and former Bridgend College learner Serena Torrance, 23, of Maesteg who is taking a criminology degree at Cardiff University.
The VQ Learner the Year Award recognises learners who clearly demonstrate progression and excellence in vocational studies and have made considerable achievements in their field.
Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James congratulated Simon and his fellow VQ Awards finalists.
“A VQ Award is more than just an award; it’s a symbol of dedication towards your chosen profession,” she said. “Professional and personal development programmes are utilised for staff to enable them to follow a pathway of learning to meet company, customer and individual needs.
“The VQ Awards help us to celebrate those Welsh employers and learners who are already going that extra mile when it comes to developing vocational skills and qualifications.
“If the Welsh economy is to continue to grow then we must ensure that employers, individuals and the Welsh Government work together to invest in the right skills for success in order to equip Wales with a world class work force.”