Two Newcastle College apprentices are set to compete in the finals of a prestigious national skills competition next month.

Painting and Decorating Apprentice Courtney Maddison and Roofing Apprentice Robert (Bobby) Young fought off regional competitors to reach the final rounds of SkillBuild, the construction arm of WorldSkills UK, the nation’s largest skills, apprenticeships and careers event.

WorldSkills UK brings together learners from across the nation to compete to be the best in their chosen field. Dubbed the ‘Skills Olympics', the competition is designed by industry experts to help upskill and develop young people from all backgrounds and abilities. Competitors take part in regional heats to win a place in the UK final where they test their talents on a national stage, and winners can secure a place in Team UK, with the opportunity to compete internationally.

Courtney and Bobby secured their places in the finals after spending the best part of a year attending various skills competitions to hone their talents, beginning with NCG Skills, an intercollegiate competition for colleges that are part of national college group NCG.

Bobby’s tutor, Jay Lewis said: “Bobby is a credit to Newcastle College, to his employer and to himself. He took first place in his debut skills competition and went on to compete in the regional SkillBuild competition, where he earnt a place in the WorldSkills UK finals. I am very proud of him, no matter what the result is in November.”

Courtney’s tutor, Andy Ritchie, said Courtney is an inspiration. He said: “It’s incredible to think how far Courtney has come. I put her forward for the SkillBuild competition last year to help build her confidence and show her how good she is, but she did far better than I ever could have hoped for, and she’s come on in leaps and bounds ever since.”

Scott Bullock, Principal of Newcastle College, commented: “Our vision at Newcastle College is to develop the skills and talents of our students to succeed in modern enterprise and make a positive contribution to the prosperity of the North East. Apprenticeships and skills training are integral to the future of our workforce, and competitions such as WorldSkills allow our students to enhance their employability prospects by encouraging them to reach their full potential while helping them to develop lifelong skills.

"We're extremely proud of Bobby and Courtney for reaching the WorldSkills UK final and having the opportunity to represent Newcastle College and the North East on the national stage. Whatever the results are at the finals, they've both displayed exceptional talent and commitment to reach this stage. I wish them the best of luck."

Both Bobby and Courtney will now compete at the WorldSkills UK finals in Milton Keynes on Wednesday 22 November.

Congratulations to all the other students across NCG who took part in regional finals over the summer and came in the top three in their category:

  • Harriet Hawdon, Newcastle College – Carpentry 
  • Niall Hancock, Newcastle College – Plastering
  • Owen Ashworth, Newcastle College – Roofing 
  • Evie Carroll, Newcastle College – Foundation Skills Hairdressing 
  • Jack Williams, Newcastle College – Foundation Skills IT 

Newcastle College and NCG have had a long-standing relationship with WorldSkills UK and have supported dozens of students to compete in its regional and national competitions. NCG Skills was developed to give students across six of NCG’s colleges an opportunity to gain work experience, develop their practical skills and improve their employability skills by competing against peers for a chance to compete in WorldSkills UK. Last year, Newcastle College was named a WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence, providing learners and teachers with even more opportunities to develop skills outside of the classroom.