Each member of Team UK for WorldSkills London 2011, the world's largest international vocational skills competition, completes an intensive training programme managed by a dedicated Training Manager in the lead up to the competition, which takes place at ExCeL London (5 – 8 October).

Team UK Wall and Floor Tiling competitor Ian McMahon, is trained by David McCay, Lecturer at North West Regional College, Northern Ireland. David McCay writes:

I started my career in the construction industry but always wanted to be involved in training so I joined further education in 1989, initially as a technician, supporting teaching staff. In 2004 I gained my teaching qualifications and subsequently a full-time post in Limavady College (now North West Regional College) lecturing in Brickwork and Tiling. I saw skills competitions as an excellent way to motivate and encourage my students and in the past decade my trainees have won 13 medals in the WorldSkills UK Competitions. In September 2010 I was approached to take on the role as Training Manager for Team UK in Wall and Floor Tiling.

I was delighted that at the same time, one of my own trainees, Ian McMahon, was selected to join Squad UK, having won his 3rd gold medal and a bronze at the WorldSkills UK Competitions.

The role as Training Manager is in addition to my teaching post at the College's specialist Greystone training centre, so the past year has been very busy. Initially I had a team of four squad members, vying for the one place on Team UK, including Ian. Having one of your own trainees competing madethe experience both more enjoyable, and more challenging. I had to remain impartial and judge each on their own merits, and they were all strong contenders. In the early stages we trained in colleges across the UK and in Switzerland, and each of the four shone in different ways, but we managed to get it down to the last 3, Jonathon Carter, Mark Woods and Ian, in early 2011.

North West Regional College has been so supportive of our preparation for WorldSkills, allowing us time to dedicate to the training and even hosting a major training week in May 2011. Squad members in construction skills spent a week in our centre – the first time that such a training camp has been held in Northern Ireland. Local primary and secondary school children, and trainees and employers from across the province visited during the week, and were inspired by the UK's best young apprentices. As a college we have found being involved in skills competitions a hugely beneficial experience. The Competitions provide our staff and learners with an excellent opportunity to build confidence and knowledge of their skill, helping them to progress in the workplace.

Having to choose between the final three competitors was one of the hardest days in my career. To ensure transparency an independent judge from Switzerland took part in the judging. When the final pieces were judged, Ian came out on top, and no-one was prouder than I to see just how far he has come.

After the excitement of the announcement, we got back to work. Over the summer we planned four weeks of intensive training, concentrating on areas that need improvement and honing his skills further, and we have a further three day training camp in September before we set off for London.

Ian's key strengths are that he is cool, calm and methodical, and he is confident in his abilities. We have a great working relationship, and he is always looking for new ways to improve – he'll make suggestions and we'll test them together. He has sacrificed his own business to concentrate on preparing for WorldSkills and we are so pleased he will be the first UK competitor in Floor & Wall Tiling in nine years.

The members of Team UK have been and will continue to be supported in their training by Edge, the independent education foundation, the Premier Supporter of Squad and Team UK and Brathay Trust, the Premier Training and Development Partner of Squad and Team UK. For more information on the next cycle of WorldSkills UK Competitions please visit www.worldskillsuk.org

David McCay is a lecturer at North West Regional College, Northern Ireland

Read other FE News articles by Team UK Training Managers:

WorldSkills London 2011: Introducing Team UK Training Manager and WorldSkills Expert (CNC Turning) Paul Green

John O'Neill, deputy head of computing and IT at Barnfield College (IT Network Systems Administration)

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