Four talented Northern Ireland competitors were today given a send-off in Belfast before heading to the international WorldSkills competition (known as the Skills Olympics) being held in the Russian city of Kazan.

WorldSkills is the largest international vocational skills competition with more than 70 countries and regions competing in 56 disciplines in a variety of skills areas including Engineering, Hospitality, Professional Services, Construction and Information Technology.

South Eastern Regional College (SERC) Level 3 Plastering student Curtis Johnston makes up one quarter of Northern Ireland's competitors along with teammates Conor McKevitt, Declan Porter and Shea McFerran. They will head off to Russia later in the month to compete as part of the Team UK. The delegation is made up of 37 of the very best apprentices and students from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The WorldSkills Finals in Russia are the 45th in WorldSkills history and are expected to attract over 100,000 visitors. During the last Finals in 2017, which took place in Abu Dhabi, Team UK secured a top ten position.

Speaking after the event hosted by the Department, Permanent Secretary, Noel Lavery said: “Making it onto the UK Team is the culmination of all the hard work, dedication, commitment and technical ability displayed by our four competitors. They should be extremely proud of their efforts and are a credit to their colleges and training providers.  I am delighted that Northern Ireland is being represented by such talent. I wish each of them every success as they embark upon this exciting journey and I look forward to following their progress.’’

“Skills competitions such as these are an excellent opportunity for us to benchmark the professional and technical skills of our competitors with those from around the world. I would encourage anyone who has seen what these young people have achieved and believe they have what it takes to compete in future skills competitions to visit the WorldSkills UK page(external link opens in a new window / tab) for more information. 

“For employers who wish to find out more about the range of programmes and assistance aimed at helping employees and future employees to develop their skills and their productivity, there is very useful information available on the Skills to Succeed website

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