Golden Performance from Team Wales at top UK skills show
Students and apprentices from Wales collected no fewer than 16 medals – five of them Gold – at the new flagship ‘Skills Show’ held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. (November 15–17).
The winners were among scores of Welsh trainees who pitted their skills in many different vocational fields against peers from all over the UK.
Some were participating in WorldSkills UK finals in their respective skills while others were taking part in special demonstration contests for the tens of thousands of visitors who attended the three-day event.
Individual gold medals went to trainee plasterer Ross Richardson Davies of Coleg Sir Gâr, Nail Art student Oksana Cooper, of Pembrokeshire College, construction metal worker, Rhodri Jones of Coleg Sir Gâr, Carmarthenshire and architectural stained glass student, Neil James of Swansea Metropolitan University.
In addition Team Wales took gold in the SkillBuild Team Challenge at the show, which covered a number of different areas of expertise. Three Team Wales competitors took individual silver medals while seven took bronze.
Their success followed three days of competition during which the students and apprentices were set a series of challenging tasks in order to demonstrate their skill levels.
For some their success might be the first step on the route to representing the UK at WorldSkills in Leipzig in 2013 or Rio de Janeiro in 2015.
This was the first time the WorldSkills UK finals, in most of the 40 qualifying disciplines, were held in one location in order to provide a single showcase for the UK’s most talented trainees. The Skills Show has been created as an annual flagship event to act as a legacy to the WorldSkills 2011 event held in London last year.
Many of the Welsh competitors won their way through to the WorldSkills UK finals at The Skills Show based on their outstanding performance in the Skills Competition Wales programme earlier this year, which is backed by the Welsh Government through the European Social Fund.
Welsh representation at the Show included students and apprentices in fields as diverse as web design, carpentry, automotive engineering, stained glass making, plumbing, plastering and industrial electronics.
Other Welsh students and apprentices showcased their exceptional talents in a wide array of skills through a highly visual and entertainment-led programme, designed to inspire visitors. Cardiff & Vale College, Coleg Harlech WEA (North), Grŵp Llandrillo Menai and ISA Training students took their place amongst the 50 ‘Showcase’ organisations chosen.
Welsh skills were also showcased on a major exhibition stand where visitors had the opportunity to try out a whole range of skills. This was led by the Welsh Government working in partnership with ColegauCymru, the National Training Federation for Wales and Higher Education Wales.
Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert congratulated Welsh medal winners. “This is testimony to the exceptional quality of vocational skills development in Wales and the growing confidence among our young people that they are more than a match for anyone in the country.
To be named the best in your skill in the UK is a tremendous achievement not only for the individual competitor but also for their family, employer or provider who have supported them in their journey.
Competitions like WorldSkills UK help deliver economic growth and improved levels of skills. The Welsh Government aims to strengthen our skill base still further over the coming three years by investing £45 million in apprenticeships.”
Barry Liles, Skills Champion and Chair of the Wales Skills Network said: “Welsh competitors really stood out at this big event and showed they were well prepared, determined and full of belief that they can be the best in their chosen fields. They have done us proud”