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We were delighted to attend the National Electrotechnical Training Celebration of Skills 2023, highlighting the fantastic skills and achievements of the SkillELECTRIC UK Finalists and other skills success stories across the industry.  Each year, the SkillELECTRIC competition sees the best electrical apprentices from across the UK take part in regional heats to compete for a place in the competition’s grand finale which took place over 14th-17th November. Amongst the finalists were Demi Mae Whitehead (William Davis Homes), Ben Gillin (Lloyd Morris Electrical), and Thomas Turner (EJ Parker Technical Services), who trained at JTL.   

Alongside SkillELECTRIC, around 50 other WorldSkills national competition finals were held that week across nine venues around Greater Manchester. To be crowned SkillELECTRIC champion, competitors had to excel in a complicated practical installation task set to a strict timescale and against rigorous marking criteria. In a first for this year, the event will also include a solar PV-related task to reflect the fact that the core competence of a qualified electrician is the foundation from which to upskill and train in solar installation.   

EAL learners were part of the finalists, including Ben Gillin of Lloyd Morris Electrical Wrexham.  Ben said, ‘Through doing WorldSkills, I’ve gained valuable knowledge that I’m sure will turn me into a more competent electrician.’  

Chris Prendergast, Installations Manager from Lloyd Morris Electrical, shared the value of the competition to Ben and their apprentices.  

"Ben is highly motivated by learning and working towards being an autonomous electrician. Ben displays maturity levels well above his current apprenticeship status and age. He has been a key team member within Lloyd Morris Electrical since joining in 2019, and his position is growing as he develops throughout his apprenticeship. The opportunity for Ben in this competition is to gain confidence in his abilities and to progress working in a team and as an individual all the time, expanding his knowledge from the training that SkillElectric provides. Ben will become a very competent electrician and has multiple options to develop his career within Lloyd Morris Electrical.

As a company, Lloyd Morris Electrical always supports the apprentice scheme, and we currently have 22 active apprentices across the 4-year programme with multiple training providers. We provide the training and working environment that each apprentice requires to develop into the role of an electrician and hopefully progress once they achieve their Gold card status. We have recently restructured our apprentice programme and appointed in-house training support workers who are made up of former apprentices. Tom Williamson is one of the training support workers who previously participated in the SkillElectric Competition, gaining the silver medal. The business has seen the individual and overall benefits; therefore, it was a simple decision to enrol Ben for this year’s competition. We also see this as a continuous commitment for other apprentices with the correct attitude and ability to compete nationally. This opportunity benefited Tom and will benefit Ben and all those involved in gaining confidence, increasing their knowledge, and learning new ways of working, allowing them to become ambassadors for future apprentices."

In addition, at the WorldSkills national competition finals, 5-students travelled from Northern Ireland to compete in the Fire Alarm Systems National Final being held at Wigan and Leigh College: Jamie Rusk (Digital Fire Security), Jack Matthews (SIA Northern Ireland), and Matthew Blair (BPS) represented their employers and SERC in the fire competition. Connor Leddy (VIS Security) and Stephen Hyland (SPIE) represented their employers and Belfast Met in the security competition.  All the young men qualified for the WorldSkills final by competing in the intercampus, regional (SkillBuildNI), and national (IFESC) competitions.  They rank among the best students and apprentices in the UK, and this competition will further showcase their skills and experience in this specialist area in the face of strong competition.  The students are enrolled in the new EAL Level 3 Diploma in Providing Electronic Fire and Security Systems qualification. EAL developed this qualification with the support of NIFSEF, Belfast Met, and SERC. The qualification includes more work-shop-based practical assessments. These assessments have contributed to the installation skills and practices, providing encouragement and confidence for the apprentices.  

Robin Hamill from SERC said: 

“The success of the students is a testimony to their own passion, desire, and commitment while supported by their employers, colleges, and the Northern Ireland Fire Security Employers Federation (NIFSEF). To compete and showcase their skills, while representing their employer and Country at the WorldSkills National finals is the pinnacle of an apprentice journey in their career. Last year, Alexander Wallace SERC won the Gold medal for Fire and Cody Moody Belfast Met won the Silver medal for Security. This was a fantastic achievement for the apprentices, their employers, and the colleges. We in Northern Ireland are all immensely proud of the achievements of the apprentices. Legislation is changing in the industry with the introduction of the BS 8670 Code of Practice Built Environment – Core criteria for building safety in competence frameworks. The legislation will require individuals to demonstrate their knowledge and competency in their discipline. The colleges in Northern Ireland are working with the NIFSEF and awarding bodies to deliver an experienced workers pathway for the Fire and Security Industry."

As we all await the results of this year’s WorldSkills National Final, we would like to congratulate the students and apprentices who have represented themselves, their employers, and colleges and wish them every success in the development of their careers.   

SkillELECTRIC is the only competition aligned to the WorldSkills network, which means competitors have the chance to go on and compete at the European or international level. If you are interested in getting involved and seeing the results of the competition, please visit https://www.skillelectric.org.uk/