Published: 30/11/2023

Ross Black - My WorldSkills journey!

NCL student Ross Black won the Gold in the Fire Detection Alarm Systems category at the Worldskills UK national finals in Manchester last week. He talks us through it.

The Pressure of the Competition: The standard was fierce, with all the participants showing their skill in fire regulations, wiring regulations, power supply, and the complete installation process. The margin between success and second place was unbelievably close—just half a point!

Taking Over, Handing Over: Our task was no walk in the park. We had to take over an incomplete job, identify non-compliance issues, and complete the installation while ensuring everything adhered to fire regulations. The pressure was on, and time management was crucial.

Navigating the Challenges:  I needed to prioritise tasks, managing time efficiently, and focus on key installation points. It was a balancing act of getting it right the first time versus completing tasks within the tight deadline. The competition pushed us to break down tasks into certain areas.

Learning from the Best: Even securing a spot in the final with the top 8 in the country was a significant achievement. The competition felt like a real working environment, challenging us to step up and showcase our skills without external help.

The Road to Success: When I started with New College Lanarkshire, Murray my main lecturer, taught us not just the technicalities but also how to be resourceful and handle real-world scenarios independently. It was an invaluable experience that prepared me for the challenges of the competition.

From Apprentice to Professional: I owe a great deal to Fortress Security Systems, which not only took me on as an apprentice but also provided a supportive environment to grow, I work there four days a week and I’m at college once.

Balancing Responsibilities: I’m a bit older than a lot of apprentices and my wife had a daughter while I’ve been at college so to do that in tandem with pursuing my career was challenging, but it was a gamble that paid off. The competition was a way to give back, not just to myself but also to Fortress Security Systems, and the College to show that investing in me was a wise decision.

A New Chapter: I’m going down to the Security Excellence Awards next week to receive the award formally. It’s been really hard work but totally worth it.