Luke Turner and Michael Kier, both students at Wirral Met College, have been announced as finalists in the prestigious WorldSkills UK competition.
They will now compete in the national finals from 9 – 19 November, after having been selected as the top performers in their chosen skills of Carpentry and Welding from National Qualifiers held across the UK.
Luke is one of only seven students across the UK to secure a place in the final for carpentry. The 21-year-old joined Wirral Met in 2020 on a Level 2 Bench Joinery Diploma and has since progressed on to a carpentry and joinery apprenticeship with local employer Magenta Living. Luke spends one day a week at the college’s world-class Wirral Waters campus and four days a week at Magenta Living, undertaking a variety of joinery projects.
Michael, the only North West student finalist for welding, takes one of only 10 spots in the final in his category. The 18-year-old studies Level 3 BTEC Certificate in Advanced Manufacturing Engineering at the college’s Twelve Quays campus and is due to complete his course in 2022.
Over 3000 people registered to take part in the UK wide competition in March of whom only 400 made it through to battle it out across 64 disciplines to be crowned national skills champions.
Luke Turner said: “The national qualifiers were tough, but I was pretty confident with what I was doing because of the training from my Wirral Met tutor. It was fun and good to stretch myself and be tested in that way. Working under pressure helps see what you are capable of.
“I was in the Lake District when I heard the news that I had made it to the national final. My tutor called me and said ‘Congratulations you’ve made it through to the national final’. I was like wow that’s crazy! It was great news. I’m excited to see what the next round holds.”
Sue Higginson, Principal at Wirral Met College said: “I am so proud of Michael and Luke who are great examples of young students who demonstrate, through hard work and dedication to learning, that they are fit for the world stage. It is also a testament to the hard work and dedication of the staff team that has nurtured their talent.
“Wirral Met College is a WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence, which evidences our college’s standing and standards in the many industrial sectors we serve. WorldSkills UK competitions provide our students with the opportunity to showcase their specialist skills on a national stage and to benchmark themselves against the very best in the country, with the opportunity to be crowned national skills champion and take home gold, silver or bronze.”
The finalists will now compete to be crowned winners at a ceremony hosted by Steph McGovern from her Packed Lunch studio on Friday 26 November.
Ben Blackledge, Deputy Chief Executive Officer said: “I want to offer my congratulations to all those that took part in our programme this year, especially the finalists. After a year without competitions due to the pandemic it was really encouraging to see so many people back involved this year.
“Our competitions and competition-based development programmes equip apprentices and students with the lifelong, world-class skills that will help increase UK productivity and competitiveness.
“We are really excited to be taking the show on the road this year with finals hosted by colleges, training providers and employers across the UK. We hope seeing the finals will inspire young people at those venues to keep developing their technical and employability skills and recognise what can be achieved by developing excellence through skills.”
The WorldSkills UK competition-based development programmes are designed by industry experts and enhance the practical skills and knowledge taught on training courses by assessing an individual’s employability attributes against set criteria in a competitive timed environment.
The national finalists from the 10 Foundation Skills competitions will be announced in October.
The programme has a real impact on those taking part, with 90% of previous entrants saying their career progression improved after competing and 86% stating their personal and employability skills had improved.
Wirral Met has been a WorldSkills Centre of Excellence since 2020 and is one of only four colleges in the North West to hold the prestigious title.
Full details of the finals and the names of all the WorldSkills UK 2021 finalists can be found here
Image: Luke Turner, one of the finalists