Two Walsall College students have won gold medals after demonstrating their computer cybersecurity skills during a national competition. Stefan Bargan and Luke Jowett beat seven teams of students and apprentices during WorldSkills UK held at the NEC, Birmingham.

The 19 and 17-year-old are now part of Team UK who will take part in the European stage of the competition in Graz, Austria next year. If they do well here, they will go through to the competition’s international finals taking place in Shanghai in September 2021.

“We spent months practicing for the competition so it feels good to know our hard work paid off,” said Stefan who is studying a HNC university-level course in Networking. “Being at WorldSkills UK is a lot of fun. We got on well with all the other competitors because we all had lots in common.

“It’s amazing to be part of Team UK. The competition is going to be bigger and more intense so it will be another major challenge for us.”

Luke, a Level 3 Computing student added: “It took a while to sink in that we’d won the national competition but now it feels great.

“The thought of being in the competition was a bit stressful at first, but once it started, we got absorbed in what we were doing and that kind of relaxed us. The work was a mix of what we had already studied, some things we were expecting, plus some things that were a complete surprise.
“It means we know a lot more about our skills set and how to develop this even further.”

Designed by industry experts, World Skills Competitions equip apprentices and students with the world-class skills needed to help UK businesses better compete globally.

For their competition, Stefan and Luke had to complete challenges involving the vulnerability of computer programs and ICT systems. They also had to identify ways to keep hackers at bay.

Mina Katti, Curriculum Manager for Computing at Walsall College added: “We’re very proud of Stefan and Luke’s achievements. They proved they could work well together, think creatively and problem-solve. And they showed the judges their passion for cyber-security principles and solutions.”

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