Matthew congratulated at Birmingham Skills Show

EMPLOYMENT and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry recently congratulated the 20 Northern Ireland Squad UK trainees during a visit to the Skills Show at the NEC in Birmingham including Banbridge AutoBody Repair apprentice, Matthew Quinn.

Commending the trainees who will now compete for places on Team UK for the next WorldSkills competition in Leipzig, Germany in 2013, the Minister said: “Northern Ireland’s representation on Squad UK is the highest of any region in the UK.

“This is testament to the high standard of vocational training in our colleges and training organisations and to the commitment to excellence shown by our young people.

“All 20 local squad members deserve the highest of praise for their achievement in making it as far as Squad UK to demonstrate how highly skilled they are. I wish each squad member every success in the training ahead and I look forward to following their progress in the lead up to WorldSkills Leipzig 2013. This is an excellent achievement for Northern Ireland and surpasses the Squad results for the last WorldSkills competition when Northern Ireland had 14 competitors in nine skill areas.”

The Minister toured the Skills Show and met with the 29 Northern Ireland training finalists who are currently competing at the show across 17 skill areas.

Recognising the importance of skills competitions, the Minister said: “This event coupled with Northern Ireland’s strong representation clearly raises the awareness and recognition of the importance of vocational skills and demonstrates their vital importance to economic growth. Skills competitions are a valuable tool in raising awareness of opportunities that exist in skilled professions. Indeed, these competitions leave a legacy in terms of the value of skills attainment and aim to inspire the web developers and engineers of tomorrow.”

The members of Squad UK were chosen from among the UK’s most talented apprentices, employees and learners after they competed in tough selection events held throughout the UK last month. They will now spend the next year preparing to take on the very best from across the world, undergoing a specialised training programme supported by a dedicated Training Manager for each skill.

Squad UK competitors will compete for coveted places in Team UK at further selection events which will be held throughout the UK in March 2013.Team UK will then continue intensive training before competing on the world stage at WorldSkills Leipzig which takes place from 2 to 7 July 2013.

Northern Ireland triumphed at WorldSkills London 2011, winning gold, silver and bronze medals as part of Team UK. WorldSkills is the biggest international skills competition in the world. Held every two years in one of its 61 member countries/regions, the competition sees around 1,000 young people aged 18 - 23 from across the globe come together to compete for medals in more than 40 different trades and skills including Electrical Installation, Mobile Robotics, Web Design, Cooking and Landscape Gardening.