College apprentices showcase their construction and electrical skills in national final

Two apprentices from Shrewsbury College have qualified for the National Final of WorldSkills UK 2017.

Andrew Balmer is an Advanced Apprentice (Level 3) in Site Carpentry and has qualified for the SkillBuild carpentry final and Marc Marshall is an Advanced Apprentice in Electrical Installation and has qualified for the SkillElectric final.

Both students were among the highest scorers in the 12 regional heats and they will each be competing against seven other opponents in the finals. Andrew is now studying a Higher National Certificate in Construction and the Built Environment NVQ in Site Supervision – a Higher Apprenticeship.

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. The finals are held to find the best construction and electrical trainees and apprentices in Britain.

Andrew, aged 25, from Baschurch, works for JR Slee Building & Joinery Contractors based in Condover. The company are active supporters of Apprenticeships and have had national success before, with Joe Price competing in the 2011 WorldSkills Final. JR Slee 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.

Rodney Slee, Managing Director of JR Slee, said: “We look to our apprentices as an investment in our future. Surprisingly, even though Andrew is learning with us, our employees learn a lot from him every day. He practises the techniques he has been taught at college and we learn a new and modern way to do things.”

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.

Deslie McGowan, of DM Electrics, said: “Working with apprentices works well for the company. I am retiring soon and Marc has been a very good asset to the company. I wish all apprentices were like him. I think he will do very well in the competition.”

Two other students have also recently been shortlisted in the G4C Awards which celebrate Constructing Excellence in the Midlands. Nick Damerum, 20, from Shrewsbury a Level 3 Apprentice in Site Carpentry who works for English Construction has been shortlisted as Apprentice of the Year. Brice Courtney, 18 from Meole Brace, who works for Morris & Co has been shortlisted as Student of the Year. They will find out how they have done at the finals on November 14 at the NCC in Birmingham.

Principal of Shrewsbury Colleges Group, James Staniforth, said: “I want to congratulate Andrew, Marc, Nick and Brice on their excellent achievements so far. It is no mean feat to be selected among some of the best young construction workers in the UK and I know from speaking with their teachers and employers that they all have very bright futures ahead of them.

“Apprenticeships allow work-based and College learning to come together and when combined with high quality teaching at the College and placements with excellent local employers such as JR Slee, Courtland Properties, English Construction and Morris & Co, all these students have been given a chance to shine, which they have grabbed with both hands.”

“These competitions showcase that skills are the foundation of modern life. Everything, from the houses we live in to the societies we create, is the result of skills. They are the driving force behind successful careers and companies, thriving industries, and economies. Skills keep the world working. We look forward to hearing how our students do in their respective competitions.”

The final for SkillBuild and SkillElectric will take place between 15 and 18 November at the NEC in Birmingham. On the final night, at the Hilton Metropole Hotel, the awards evening will be streamed live on the WorldSkills UK Facebook page.

For more information on A Levels, visit or call 01743 235491. For more information about vocational courses, visit or call 01743 342342.

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