From education to employment

Talented SERC apprentices bring home medal quartet at Skillbuild final

Over 75 local construction apprentices gathered their tools to compete against each other in the annual Skillbuild NI National Finals which was held in Southern Regional College, Portadown on 24 March.

SERC talented quartet Gary McGaughey (refrigeration and air conditioning), Curtis Johnston (plastering), Curtis Johnston and Jack Ferrris (refrigeration and air conditioning) competed at the high profile competition and took home one gold medal, two silver and a bronze medal respectively.

Skillbuild NI, which is now in its fortieth year, is supported by the Department for the Economy helping to assist with maintaining and raising the status and standards of professional and technical education and training. The competition is run and governed by CITB NI, is held annually each spring with many winners progressing further to represent Northern Ireland in the Skills Show UK and potentially at WorldSkills.

Skillbuild not only encourages competitors to improve their own skills, but provides an example of the high quality work being produced in training organisations and colleges across NI. The Skillbuild test pieces are designed to challenge the ability of apprentices to follow detailed instructions, test skills within tight timeframes, and produce neat and accurate work – all essential requirements for today’s construction environment.

Maurice Johnston, Chairman CITB NI said: “CITB NI is proud to have been involved in construction skills competitions for 40 years.  Skillbuild NI is about raising the status and standards of professional and technical education and training. We have a proud record of success at skills competitions not only on a local level but also on a regional, national and world level. Skillbuild NI gives all the competitors a chance to showcase their skills and we congratulate everyone who has taken part and those who have excelled in their trade.

“Skillbuild NI couldn’t happen without the support of the local sponsors and the training network and we extend our thanks to all who have helped the apprentices to be able to compete at this competition.  We would also like to extend our best wishes to the Northern Ireland competitors who will be taking part in UK team selection for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi in October. Our young people are more ambitious now than ever and we hope that Skillbuild NI National Finals will be part of their journey and future careers within the construction industry.”

John Nixon SERC head of school for construction and engineering services commented on how Skillbuild benefits the students: “Skillbuild provides a unique stage for trainees to showcase their skills and expertise and motivates them to reach the highest standards in trade careers. It was a very successful competition with around twelve of our students participating. The high standard of workmanship displayed and this was commented on by the various judges. The success and hard work by both the students and staff was very evident throughout the competition.”

SERC provides a range of full and part-time courses designed to give students’ the edge’. To find out how SERC can help you ‘get the edge’ call 0845 600 7555, visit or find us on Facebook, search: South Eastern Regional College.

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