Four exceptional apprentices from South West College achieved remarkable podium finishes at the Construction Industry Training Board NI (CITB NI) annual SkillBuild NI Finals 2023 competition held at NWRC, Greystone Campus in Limavady.

The competition held on 16 May is designed to test skills, technique, ability within tight timeframes, and identifies the top performers in 11 different trade areas within construction apprenticeship programmes from across Northern Ireland. It is a showcase of the wealth of talent, professionalism, and the brightest recruits throughout the industry.

Over 90 of the brightest recruits and top performers within construction apprenticeship programmes from across Northern Ireland competed against each other to win in categories: Brickwork, Cabinet Making, Carpentry, Electrical Installation, Joinery, Painting & Decorating, Plastering Dry Wall Systems, Plastering, Plumbing, Wall & Floor Tiling.

The SkillBuild NI Finals is part of a regional qualifier and South West College celebrated multiple victories in the fields of plumbing, plastering, and carpentry. Among the top performers were Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing & Heating apprentices; David Bateman Smith, from Lisbellaw, who is employed by Ashley McFarland, who scooped 1st place in Plumbing, and Joseph Hagan, from Galbally, Ballygawley, employed by Ronan Hagan, who earned 2nd place in the same category.

Matthew Sloan from Smithborough, Monaghan, completing his L2 NVQ in Construction (Plastering) with employment at Flynn Plastering, also excelled, achieving 2nd place in Plastering and first year, Level 2 in Woodworking skills apprentice Luke Swift from Lisnaskea, employed with Stephen McPhillips, secured 3rd place in carpentry. The four finalists may now have the opportunity to represent Northern Ireland in the SkillBuild UK national finals which, for the first time, will take place at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes on 21, 22 & 23 November 2023.

Supported by the Department for the Economy and local construction companies, the competition provides an opportunity to showcase the high level of skills and the impressive talent within the workforce, as well as raising the status and standards of professional and technical education and training.

Barry Neilson, Chief Executive CITB NI, said:
“A huge congratulations to all the apprentices who took part in the annual SkillBuild NI 2023 competitions. There was an incredible amount of talent on display. It was great to see the enthusiasm and commitment from a new generation of construction industry leaders – the future of the industry is looking very bright! Apprentices at all levels are a vital component to helping the construction industry develop and grow. Offering young people apprenticeships gives businesses the chance to play an active role in developing their future workforce as well as creating the future skills that they need to help their businesses develop. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partner NWRC for the fantastic showcase of the NI talent pool throughout the competition and we look forward to the SkillBuild UK National Finals in November.”

Chris Robinson, Centre for Excellence - Work-Based Manager at South West College, said:

It is fantastic to see so many of our apprentices excelling at this level putting themselves against the best apprentices in Northern Ireland in their chosen vocation. The success of these four students is testament to their efforts and dedication to develop their skills and careers. This is only possible with the continued support of their employers and lecturers and my sincere thanks to them for this investment in developing their students and workforce. Congratulations to our other 10 finalists at the Northern Ireland finals on their qualification and participation, a tremendous achievement in itself.”

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