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World Skills Candidate Builds a Sturdy Future

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Sam Fairgrieve from Stoney Stanton, Leicestershire has achieved a lot in a short space of time. At 16 he left school with one GCSE and applied for an Apprenticeship with a local construction company, Jelson Homes. Four year on, 20 year old Sam is a fully qualified bricklayer with a number of construction awards under his belt and has been shortlisted for the 2009 WorldSkills Competition that takes place in Calgary, Canada in September.

The WorldSkills event occurs every two years and sees 900 competitors across 50 nations compete over four days for gold, silver and bronze awards in more than 40 categories ranging from floristry and bricklaying to graphic design. Sam is no stranger to the rigorous selection process of the WorldSkills event. He competed in the final phase to represent the UK in the 2007 WorldSkills Competition in Japan and made it to runner up. However, due his age, talent and the potential he displayed, UK Skills the organisation who manage the UK team’s entry to the WorldSkills Competition took Sam to Japan alongside squad with a view to competing in Canada.

Sam said: "I’m in the final stages of my WorldSkills journey, after this year I’ll be too old to have another go so I’m very determined this time. I’m focused and training hard for the next round – the next five months are crucial, it’s going to be hard but I’m feeling confident. It would be an amazing feeling to represent my country and to come home from Canada with a gold medal would be a dream come true."

To reach his current level of skill Sam has worked exceptionally hard at perfecting his bricklaying techniques putting in extra time at college and working closely with his tutor at Leicester College, Keith Binns.

Keith says: "Sam is modest, unassuming and a joy to teach. I’ve been working with him throughout his Apprenticeship and Advanced Apprenticeship and now tutor him one-to-one in the run up to WorldSkills. Sam is dyslexic and struggled with the academic side of his Apprenticeship but he overcame these challenges by using his own time and working with his support tutor regularly. He is a very talented young man and all that he has achieved is testament to his first class attitude to learning. I have no doubt he has the drive and focus to succeed."

Sam comments: "Being dyslexic has never stopped me from doing anything I wanted to. I’m a very practical and hands-on person which is why I enjoy bricklaying so much. I didn’t enjoy school and when I left school my confidence was low and I wasn’t really sure about what to do with my future. I started an Apprenticeship but was anxious about the theory side of it and although I found it challenging, the Apprenticeship boosted my self-confidence.

"Having the option of an Apprenticeship for young people that aren’t particularly intellectual is brilliant and I’m grateful for the opportunity to develop a skill and passion in bricklaying. I couldn’t have achieved as much as I have without the support from my college and my employer, Jelson Homes."

Anne de Vere Hunt, HR Officer at Jelson Homes, comments: "The Apprenticeship programme is important to Jelson Homes; it encourages young people into the company ensuring a healthy continuation of our workforce. We offer apprenticeships in various trades and aim to have all learners achieve their qualifications within 3 years.

"Sam is now fully qualified, but was a model apprentice – he approached every aspect of his training with a determination and maturity far exceeding his age. He is a dependable young man and has achieved so much through not only his natural talent but also his perseverance and dedication. Sam is a great ambassador for our company and the construction industry and a great role model to other youngsters wishing to pursue a career in construction. We are delighted with his progress in the UK Skills competitions and hope to see him return from Canada with a gold medal."

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