Ben Blackledge, WorldSkills UK Interim Chief Executive, together with senior Department for the Economy officials, joined the leadership team and WorldSkills student competitors from Southern Regional College at Newry campus on Wednesday 19 April to celebrate the College’s outstanding success at WorldSkills UK where the College topped the UK leader
Southern Regional College has consistently been within the UK’s top three ranking colleges in the UK wide competitions over the past number of years and had set itself a target of reaching the number one spot within the next five years.
However, due to the hard work, diligence and dedication of staff and students at the College and the outstanding success of the College’s competitors at the most recent competition, the College made the top spot within one year, being crowned ‘Best in the UK’.
The WorldSkills competitions are a global initiative to develop workforce skills and raise technical skills.
WorldSkills Interim Chief Executive, Ben Blackledge who was in attendance, was blown away by the College’s consistency in results.
He commented: “To be number one in the UK is amazing and is a huge achievement. And with the College’s success of top three over the past numbers of years, this demonstrates that it’s about being consistent, so this topping of the leader board is no fluke.”
Mr Blackledge presented the College with a certificate recognising the College’s amazing achievement in becoming the best performing college at the WorldSkills UK National Finals.
WorldSkills UK is a member of the global WorldSkills consisting of 82 members around the globe. The organisation is passionate about utilising the global network to bring the “best and newest ideas” in training standards back to the UK.
On the night Ben paid tribute to the many partnerships within Northern Ireland, from the local government departments, all six further education colleges, to college curriculum leads, tutors and competitors who strive to ensure Northern Ireland remains globally competitive.
Joining officials on the night were 15 successful participants from the recent UK WorldSkills competitions. These young participants had the opportunity to hear how WorldSkills UK seeks to ensure forthcoming competitions such as the Euro Skills in Gdansk in Poland and 2024 WorldSkills international competition in Lyon, France should remain within their targets, as it’s an opportunity to learn from counterparts and provides the best opportunities in life.
As Ben commented – “there’s always room for improvement.”
At the event were local Armagh students Aaron Gillespie (Wall & Floor Tiling); Conor Nugent (Wall & Floor Tiling); Mykenzie Cartmill (Beauty Therapy); Keri Woodcraft (Creative Media Make Up); and Keady student Jacqui Hawthorne (Painting & Decorating).
Jacqui was successful in obtaining a bronze medal at the UK competition. Students, Mykenzie and Keri won silver medals in their respective categories, with fellow student Conor Nugent obtaining the coveted gold medal in his category.
Lastly Aaron, a former student, now turned lecturer at the College, progressed to representing the UK at the WorldSkills special edition finals in Italy.
Other Armagh WorldSkills UK finalists, include Ellie-Louise McCall (Beauty Therapy), Emma Walsh (Beauty Therapy) and Charlotte Cochrane (Commercial Make-up).
Brian Doran, Principal & Chief Executive of Southern Regional College further commented: “On behalf of everyone at SRC I want to salute our WorldSkills participants. You can be extremely proud of your achievements as we certainly are, and I hope that you have benefited from this invaluable experience and unique learning. This experience will stand to you throughout your career and beyond.
“You have demonstrated that you’re amongst the most talented trainees in the UK and I hope that you will use this experience to gain the confidence to move onto further success because nothing should stand in your way.”