College apprentices win gold at skills competition

Two apprentices from Shrewsbury Colleges Group have been flying the flag for Shropshire and showing the rest of the UK how skilful this county is by bringing home two gold medals.

At WorldSkills UK competition last week Andrew Balmer, an Advanced Apprentice (Level 3) in Site Carpentry, won gold in the SkillBuild carpentry final and Marc Marshall, an Advanced Apprentice (Level 3) in Electrical Installation, won gold in the SkillElectric final.

Overall Shrewsbury Colleges Group came 9th in the competition, out of 119, and no other college got two golds.

SkillBuild and SkillElectric are the largest, multi-trade competitions in the UK and have been running for over 45 years. WorldSkills showcases the value of skills and raises the recognition of skilled professionals worldwide.

Both students competed against seven other opponents to be crowned champions. Winning gold gives entrants the honour of going to the WorldSkills final as part of Team UK – this will take place in Russia in 2019. Marc will perfect his skills over the next two years and focus on representing the UK on an international platform. Sadly, Andrew will be too old to compete in 2019, so he will focus on continuing his studies with Shrewsbury Colleges Group towards a Higher Apprenticeship studying a Higher National Certificate in Construction and the Built Environment NVQ in Site Supervision.

Andrew, aged 25, from Baschurch, works for JR Slee Building & Joinery Contractors based in Condover. The company are active supporters of Apprenticeships and have won a raft of awards including Apprentice of the Year from the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce and were a top 100 Apprenticeship Employer nationally in 2011.

Marc, aged 20 from Telford, works for DM Electrics in Telford, as part of Courtland Properties. Courtland Properties manages property development sites until completion working with all the construction trades.

Stuart Raine, Construction Curriculum Leader, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Andrew and Marc both won gold medals. I cannot praise the lads high enough for their commitment, motivation and passion to compete at this level. Since winning their regional finals in June, they have been training twice a week, fitting it in around full time work and college studies.

“It is a shame that Andrew will not fit into the age requirement for WorldSkills in 2019, but that does not detract from the truly remarkable achievement by these two talented and gifted students. This is a tremendous achievement for Andrew and Marc and winning two gold medals at a national final is a first for Construction”.

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