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SkillBuild gold medallists excel at “UK’s Construction Olympics”

The winners of SkillBuild ’21 – the “UK’s construction Olympics” – have been described as having “the skills everyone is crying out for”.

Fifty-three competitors from across the UK took part in SkillBuild, the annual construction contest, held this year at the National Construction College in Bircham Newton.

Over three intense days of competition the best construction trainees & apprentices from across the UK were tested, against the clock, in their chosen trades.

The SkillBuild medallists were announced on Friday at an online national celebration event and crowned (virtually) by TV presenter Steph McGovern from her Packed Lunch studio.

FE champion and former engineer Steph McGovern

Announcing the medallists Steph said:

“The winners would be part of the best contact book you could ever have. If you’re looking for a bricklayer, you’re going to go for one of the country’s best. These are the skills that everyone is crying out for.”

Sam Dean, 19, from Ashton-in-Makerfield won the gold medal in the plastering competition. Sam, who has just finished his apprenticeship, has been working for Chorley-based IB Plastering Ltd for two years.

Sam said: “SkillBuild was a good experience. I was nervous going into the competition, but the judges were helpful.

“SkillBuild taught me not to panic, rush or concentrate on what others are doing, but to go at my own speed and get the job right.” Sam says he enjoys being a plasterer and would like to run his own company one day “employ people and make lots of money!”

SkillBuild is managed by the CITB, in collaboration with WorldSkills UK.

Commenting on this year’s competition CITB Chief Executive Tim Balcon said:

“SkillBuild brings the best out of the UK’s most promising construction trainees and apprentices. It teaches them to use their skills under pressure, to work to deadlines and to produce high quality work. The talent on display in this year’s competition was a credit to competitors and their trainers. It augurs well for industry, too.

“There are great opportunities for skilled construction workers in the UK. Demand for labour is high as the economy recovers from the pandemic. CITB estimates that over 40,000 new construction jobs will be created between now and 2025. It’s important that we increase the number of people in construction, the example of SkillBuild competitors will help do that. I wish all the competitors the very best in their careers.”

Ben Blackledge, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, WorldSkills UK

Deputy CEO of WorldSkills UK, Ben Blackledge, says that success in UK-wide finals is a litmus test for the future of the economy. He said:

“These young people are a real inspiration. They are an example to us all and are to be congratulated.

“To have excelled after such a difficult year shows their dedication and drive is second to none.

“Skills are the lifeblood of every economy, creating high quality jobs, rewarding careers, inward investment and growth.”

SkillBuild Gold medal winners (from England):

Bricklaying: Mitchell Proctor. Preston’s College
Carpentry: Charlie Reeve. E N Suiter  
CBM Furniture and Cabinet making: Michael Jack. Talbot Burnley College  
Joinery: Sam Abbott. North Warwickshire & South Leicestershire College – Harrowbrook  Plastering: Sam Dean. Wigan and Leigh College – Pagefield Centre 
Stonemasonry: Lewis Evans. Bath College – Radstock

Gold medal winners (from Wales)

FSW – Foundation Skills: Woodworking: Ben Thewlis. Coleg Gwent – Newport

Gold medal winners (from Scotland)  

Painting and Decorating: Nicole Smith. Bell Group UK

Gold medal winners (from Northern Ireland):

Plastering & Drywall systems: Ignas Kurasovas. Errigal Contracts
Wall & Floor tiling: Aaron Gillespie. Southern Regional College – Newry Campus

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