Lanarkshire College ranks top three for skills provision in UK

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New College Lanarkshire has been ranked in the top three institutions in the UK for skills provision after students scooped seven medals at national skills competition, WorldSkills UK.

The College, which has been a top three institution at the competition for the last five years, ranked third on the leader board at the competition held at The Skills Show in Birmingham NEC from 16-19 November.

The medal-haul included one gold, three silver, one bronze and three highly commended awards across eight different skills.

Last year’s gold medallist in Mechanical Engineering: CAD, Ross Megahy, was also celebrated at the glittering awards ceremony in The Hilton Birmingham Metropole, as he was announced as a member of Squad UK and will now train for selection with the best students and apprentices in the UK for a chance to compete in EuroSkills Budapest 2018 and WorldSkills Kazan 2019 – following in the footsteps of New College Lanarkshire’s Betsy Crosbie, who competed in the skill this year in Abu Dhabi, bringing home a Medallion of Excellence.

Ross said: “Since winning Gold at last year’s WorldSkills UK it’s been non-stop training and I am so buzzing that it has paid off.

“I’m now at Strathclyde University studying Product Design Innovation, but still training hard to ensure I am at my peak for WorldSkills.

“Being selected for Squad UK is so daunting but I am well up for the challenge to make sure I get to Kazan.

“I wouldn’t be here without my WorldSkills trainers and experts and I am so grateful to them.”

Students competed in competitions across three days in front of 80,000 spectators to be named the best at their skills in the UK.

Recognised for the accolade in IT Software Solutions for Business was Stuart Ord, 19 from Carluke, who received gold in the competition after three-days of intensive competition.

He said: “The competition was really challenging but I was confident in what I was doing and enjoyed completing the tasks. But I still couldn’t believe it when I was announced as the gold winner – it was amazing!

“Taking part in WorldSkills and all the training leading up to it has really made me surer of myself and my ability and I look forward to taking my skills to University where I want to study Software Development.”

The Silver medal in the IT Software Solutions for Business category were also won by New College Lanarkshire student Steven Lynch, 24 from Motherwell.

Continuing the medal haul for IT-related subjects was Dawid Soczka, 26 from Hamilton, who won a Bronze medal in the IT Support Technician category, while classmate Matt Ridley, 30 from Lesmahagow, was given the Highly Commended title.

Make-up students were also celebrated at the ceremony, with Allanah McCafferty, 23 from Cumbernauld, bringing home a Silver medal in Fashion and Photographic Make-up, upgrading her Highly Commended award from WorldSkills UK 2016.

The Kirkintilloch Campus student was joined by two Coatbridge-based students on the podium, Alby Crawford, 20 from Bellshill and Gemma Walker, 28 from Falkirk, who both won Highly Commended for their skills.

Mechanical Engineering: CAD student, Simon McGinley, 21 from Greenock, won the final medal of the evening bringing home a Silver medal.

Already in the top percentage of skilled students in the UK, 18 New College Lanarkshire students attended the competition – the highest amount of competitors attending from any one organisation.

They competed against 500 other competitors in WorldSkills UK - including various universities, colleges and organisations such as Rolls Royce - in skills including 3D Digital Game Art, IT Software Solutions for Business, Web Design, IT Support Technician, Network Systems Administrator, Mechanical Engineering: CAD, Media Make-up: Body and Fashion and Photographic Make-up.

Martin McGuire, Principal of New College Lanarkshire, said: “I would like to congratulate each and every student and staff member from New College Lanarkshire who contributed to the fantastic results achieved.

“WorldSkills UK is a prestigious competition which attracts the highest calibre of competitors from across the UK, so to have our students top the leader board across a varied and diverse range of skill areas is a phenomenal achievement.

“The dedication and determination our students have shown throughout their time at College is exemplified by the standard of work shown by all our competitors.

“The success also demonstrates the commitment from our staff to supporting and developing their students to ensure they have all the skills needed for the future.

“New College Lanarkshire aims to provide students with a ‘Skillset for Life’ and being one of the top three prestigious institutions reaffirms our commitment to them.”

Three New College Lanarkshire lecturers, Jenny McAuley, Robert Balfour and Brendan Burns, were tasked with judging the competitions in their respective subject area. Brendan was also nominated for a WorldSkills UK Local Hero award, joining Head of Faculty for Engineering, Barry Skea and Computing Lecturer Ian Hunter, recognising their commitment to training students for the competitions.

The College also hosted a spotlight stall for Mechanical Engineering: CAD which was headed up by Barry Skea, who is also the WorldSkills expert in the subject. Three current Mechanical Engineering students were present on the stand showing members of the public skills in 3D printing.

They were joined by Team UK and the College’s Skills Champion, Betsy Crosbie, who was charged with giving a tour of the Skills Show to Carol Stott, Chair of WorldSkills UK and Antony Jenkins, Shadow Chair of the Institute for Apprenticeships.

Betsy was also celebrated at a special awards ceremony held to celebrate members of Team UK who competed in Abu Dhabi in October. She was awarded the Douglas Hill award for people who have overcome obstacles in training, which was named in honour of the first ever competitor to compete in WorldSkills in 1953 who was present to applaud Betsy.

Dr Neil Bentley, CEO WorldSkills UK, said: “This has been a wonderful showcase for UK skills.

“The competition was fierce and the standards very high – all the finalists have done brilliantly well just to get this far. All their hard work and dedication has been rewarded and we at WorldSkills UK salute you.”

The competitions, which are run in partnership with organisations from industry and education, are regulated and powered by WorldSkills UK, which takes a radical approach to hothousing young talent to inspire the next generation and power UK industry post Brexit.

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