Medals for SRC students at SkillBuild National Finals

Posted By:
Southern Regional College

24th Nov 2023

After more than 1,000 registrations and 17 regional heats, 3 construction students from Southern Regional College (SRC) have been named as medallists at this year’s SkillBuild National Final 2023. Earlier this week, 16 top construction trainees from across Northern Ireland’s College’s, which included 6 SRC students, travelled to the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes to undertake three intense days of competition.

From Tuesday 21st to Thursday 23rd November, competitors were tasked with constructing a project designed by an expert panel of judges, within an 18-hour timeframe. The project tested the individual’s knowledge and skills, as well as their ability to work under pressure within strict timelines.  All whilst adhering to health and safety protocols.

Students from SRC picking up medals include:

  • Jacqui Hawthorne from Keady, Armagh. Jacqui won the coveted gold medal in the Painting and Decorating category, a step up from the bronze medal she won in the 2022 national finals.  Jacqui has been a consistent competitor in SkillBuild regional and national competitions.  This year marks the third year in a row that Jacqui has made it to the SkillBuild national finals.  Jacqui’s consistency and skills sets her apart from other painting and decorating professionals. When not in SRC’s Greenbank campus practicing her craft, you will find Jacqui at work with Eden Decorators in Armagh.
  • Patryk Niedoba from Dunmurray, Belfast. Patryk is another student committed to his profession.  Patryk travels from Dunmurray to SRC’s Newry Greenbank campus to undertake his Level 3 Apprenticeship in Wall & Floor Tiling.  At the SkillBuild Finals, Patryk was top in his category winning a gold medal in Wall & Floor Tiling, improving on his silver medal position at the Northern Ireland regional finals in May.
  • Josh McBride from Kilkeel, Co.Down. Josh has consistently delivered in competition settings.  Having been second in the Northern Ireland regional finals in May this year, Josh has showcased his skills exceptionally, winning bronze at the UK Finals in the Plastering category.

Other SRC students competing within the SkillBuild National Finals in Milton Keynes include Niall Rice, from Castlewellan who competed in the Bricklaying category; Erin McKnight from Belfast, competing in the Painting & Decorating category alongside Jacqui Hawthorne, and Conor Branniff from Portaferry, Newtownards.  Conor competed in the Wall & Floor Tiling Category alongside classmate Patryk Niedoba.  Conor experienced success this year having been named as Northern Ireland’s top apprentice at the Department for the Economy 2023 Apprenticeship Awards and picking up 1st place in the regional finals.

SkillBuild is delivered by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and showcases some of the brightest talent in construction. The prestigious competition brings together highly skilled learners and apprentices to battle it out to be crowned winner of their chosen trade.

CITB’s latest Construction Skills Network (CSN) report states that an extra 4,450 workers will be required to meet NI construction demand by 2027. SkillBuild is a fantastic opportunity to alter common misconceptions of the industry and promote the diverse range of roles available. CITB NI host the SkillBuild NI Regional Final annually in partnership with one of the local colleges and it is an important event for competitors, supported by colleges, their trainers/lecturers and local sponsors.

Raymond Sloan, Principal & CEO of Southern Regional College commented:

“These results from the 2023 SkillBuild National Finals in Milton Keynes round off an exceptional period of success by SRC students. Our students have shown time after time, their perseverance in honing their craft and their commitment to success.  To make it to the National Finals is testament to the dedication of both our students and their lecturers who have passed on a wealth of knowledge.  I congratulate all students for another truly marvellous achievement.”