Students flying high in capital

Hartlepool College of Further Education Aerospace students Peter Cullen, left and David Hunt who took part in the London event.
Hartlepool College of Further Education Aerospace students Peter Cullen, left and David Hunt who took part in the London event.

STUDENTS from Hartlepool College of Further Education showcased their skills at a prestigious international event in London.

Staff and students took to the stage as part of Worldskills 2011 which attracted massive crowds of spectators to the O2 Arena.

The competition, often called the Skills Olympics due to the size, scale and number of countries involved, is designed to find the very best of skilled talent from across the globe.

There are more than 50 competitions in total ranging from engineering and construction, to web design and IT, to landscaping and heritage and fashion design to hairdressing.

As the countries battled it out, the Hartlepool students demonstrated what the college has to offer in two diverse subjects.

College assistant principal Steve Wallis said: “We applied to do two showcases very different in skills-set that would attract the attention of visitors. The first was an aircraft engineering demonstration and the second was a heritage-based exhibition of stone carving and dry-stone walling – both went incredibly well and surpassed our expectations.”

College principal and chief executive Michael Bretherick was a guest at the glittering opening ceremony where highly skilled competitors from 51 countries were officially welcomed to London in preparation for four days of competitions at the Arena’s Excel conference centre.

He said: “Ultimately we want to put a competitor in Team UK. We are already having success in regional and national competitions and the college is now leading the North-East in developing inter-college events much like we do already in sport.

“This is expected to increase the level of skill, allow teams of students to compete and encourage the competitive ethos required to make the national squad while also enjoying being part of a college team.”

At the end of the four-day event Korea topped the table with 13 gold, five silver, six bronze and 12 medallions for Excellence.

The UK finished in sixth place with four gold, two silver, six bronze and 12 medallions for Excellence.

Worldskills originated in Spain in the late 1940s to address a growing skills need and inspire young people, their parents and teachers that the future of the country depended on effective vocational training.

In 1947, with the participation of around 4,000 apprentices from a dozen mechanical trades, the first National Competition took place in Spain.

Today this international event includes competitors from 51 participating countries, hundreds of participating companies, sponsors and providers and thousands of visitors.

The next Worldskills competition in 2013 will be hosted in Leipzig, Germany and Hartlepool College of Further Education is hoping to take part again.

During the run-up to Worldskills 2011 hundreds of students had the opportunity to take part in skills tasters at Hartlepool College of Further Education.

The college will now provide the opportunity for primary school children to ‘have a go’ as part of National Apprenticeship Week next February.

Any school teachers interested in booking the ‘Skills Roadshow’ are advised to book early as demand is expected to be high. Contact Helen Watts on (01429) 283815.

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