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Leeds College Celebrates Most Ever SkillBuild National Finalists 

Brickwork competitors work in bays in a training campus at a past SkillBuild regional heat.

A record number of Leeds College of Building students have been selected for the national final of SkillBuild 2023 – the largest multi-trade skills competition in the UK for construction trainees and apprentices. 

Delivered by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), SkillBuild showcases some of the brightest talent. Highly skilled learners and apprentices go head-to-head to be crowned winner of their chosen trade. 

Scores were tallied following the conclusion of the regional qualifiers and nine Leeds College of Building students selected for the national competition. This is the most finalists the College has ever had shortlisted and is the largest cohort from any single college in the UK.

Fifteen regional qualifiers took place across the UK, with Leeds College of Building hosting the final West Yorkshire regional event across North Street and Southbank Campuses on 29 June. Competing trades included Bricklaying, Bricklaying Level 1, Roof Slating & Tiling, Carpentry, Joinery, Painting & Decorating, Plastering, Plastering & Drywall Systems, and Wall & Floor Tiling. 

Competitors were tested on their technical abilities, time management, problem-solving, and skills working under pressure. The prestigious competition is proven to improve competitors’ technical and employability skills, as well as advancing career options. 

Over 45 learners participated in the West Yorkshire heat representing 11 regional colleges and seven independent employers. The College put forward 20 of its own students across a range of disciplines.

Mark Sims, Leeds College of Building Lecturer and Competition Coordinator, said:

“Every one of our learners worked so hard and certainly carried the Leeds College of Building name forward as an institution to be reckoned with. Of the 27 top three spots across trades in the West Yorkshire heats, Leeds College of Building secured 18 places, which is an incredible achievement for our students and their tutors.

“When the successful competitors were finally announced for the national finals, I was absolutely gobsmacked by the results. Our learners have secured a massive nine finalist places, which is the biggest number the College has every secured.”

Following the regional qualifiers, the top eight scoring competitors from each trade category across the UK will now participate in the national final. The Leeds College of Building students selected for the finals are:

  • Brickwork – Archie Kitching (1st place in West Yorkshire regional qualifier)
  • Plastering & Drylining Systems – Daniel Fairclough, Nathan Richards (1st and 2nd places respectively)
  • Plastering – Newton Robinson, Wesley Proud (1st and 2nd places respectively)
  • Roof Slating & Tiling – George Jewitt-Knott, Aeron Murray, Daniel Sperry (1st, 2nd, and 3rd places respectively)
  • Wall & Floor Tiling – Sam Cowgill (1st place)

Mark continued:

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody at the college for their hard work in making our Yorkshire Regional such a success – from support staff welcoming guests to lecturers helping and encouraging students with their training preparations.”

For the first time, this year’s national final will take place at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes on 21, 22 & 23 November 2023. The arena has previously played host to the National Badminton Championships, darts tournaments, and various music concerts.

Nikki Davis, Leeds College of Building Principal & CEO, added:

“Everyone at Leeds College of Building is delighted with the performance of the students who took part in the regional finals. Those progressing to the national finals have the opportunity to test their skills against the best in the country and we wish all of them every success. 

“All those who took part in the regionals demonstrated exceptional commitment and professionalism, and we were very proud of every one of our students. SkillBuild is a fantastic opportunity for students to really showcase their skills, push them to the limit, and possibly go on to represent their country at WorldSkills.”

Leeds College of Building has an exceptional track record in SkillBuild competitions. Three Leeds College of Building students took medal positions at last year’s national final. At a special award ceremony presented by Steph McGovern in her Packed Lunch studio, apprentice Zara Dupont received gold in the Plastering and Drywall Systems category.  

Fellow students Kyron Sharlotte and Aaron Brady also took bronze positions in Roof Slating & Tiling and Wall & Floor Tiling respectively, while Aeron Murray received Highly Commended in Roof Slating & Tiling.

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