A Derry IT student will represent Northern Regional College in Birmingham next week at the WorldSkills UK LIVE finals – the ‘Olympics of vocational skills’.

Maciej Twardowski, who is originally from Poland and now lives in Straw, studies IT Software Solutions at the College’s Magherafelt campus, fought off stiff competition to secure his place at the prestigious national finals which take place from 21 – 23 November at the NEC, Birmingham. The finals are at the heart of WorldSkills UK LIVE, the UK’s largest skills, apprenticeship and careers event.

Over the three days, there will be competitions in 70 different skills across the Digital, Technology, Engineering, Construction and Hospitality industries. Finalists will aim to complete a set task or series of tasks in their respective skill area within a limited time in front of the 70,000 plus visitors who are expected to attend the event. The original entry of over 3,000 competitors has been whittled down to just 500 for the national finals. Maciej is one of the Northern Regional College competitors to make the cut.  

The other finalists accompanying him from across the College’s six campuses, are: Abigail Reilly, Ballymena (Plumbing); Ashton Logan, Ballymena (Bricklaying); Patrick McCloskey, Coleraine (Carpentry); Tadas Dobrovlskis, Newtownabbey (Welding); Philip Park, Ballymoney (Graphic Design); and Jack Marshall, Newtownabbey (Interactive Media).

Eighteen-year-old Maciej, now in his second year at the College, said he was delighted to hear that he had qualified for WorldSkills UK LIVE:

“Competing at the regional level was an excellent experience. I’m really looking forward going to Birmingham for the national finals.

“My lecturer Judith Knox has been a great support to me in the lead up to WorldSkills UK LIVE. It’s a huge competition so I’ve been trying to practise as much as possible and her guidance has helped me to feel more confident.”

Judith Knox added: “Maciej is a delight to have in class. His work is always completed to a very high standard. I am so pleased that all his hard work has paid off and I wish him the best of luck for the WorldSkills UK LIVE finals.”

Congratulating Maciej and all the students on reaching the national finals, Professor Terri Scott, Principal and Chief Executive of Northern Regional College said:

“These students are shining examples of the skills and talent inherent to our young people at the College. What they have achieved so far is a reflection of their hard work, commitment and dedication and I wish them every success in the national finals.”

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She said the students and their lecturers all deserved great credit as qualifying for WorldSkills UK LIVE was a significant achievement.

“I can’t impress the scale and scope of the finals enough – they really are the equivalent of the Olympics for experiential learning and apprenticeships. It is a true delight to see so many from the College compete at such a high level.

“Many students recognise that the traditional academic pathway is not for them, so they choose an alternative route to success and pursue a pathway in a trade-based career through an apprenticeship, Higher Level Apprenticeship or one of the other training opportunities available at the College. These students are testament to the high level of success that can be achieved in any subject when their hard work is fostered in a caring, encouraging and supportive environment,” Professor Scott said.

Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE, Chief Executive, WorldSkills UK said: “I wish all Northern Regional College students the best of luck as they compete at WorldSkills UK LIVE.

“At WorldSkills UK we work to accelerate the development of young people’s skills from national to world-class standards. We’re creating a new generation of high flyers that give UK employers a competitive edge.”

Northern Regional College students have a proven track record at WorldSkills UK LIVE. At last year’s competition, Aghadowey student Samuel Gilmore was named UK Champion for Carpentry. He has since gone on to be crowned Europe’s Best Apprentice at the European Alliance for Apprenticeship Awards, held in Helsinki in October. The previous year, Rory McCloskey from Antrim, was crowned UK Champion in the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) category when he was a Foundation Degree student.

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