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Skills winners celebrate with Deputy Minister

PEMBROKESHIRE learners have been rewarded for their successes at two major skills competitions, in an event celebrating talent across Wales.

Winners gathered at St David’s Hotel and Spa in Cardiff Bay to be honoured for their achievements at Skills Competition Wales and The Skills Show.

The event saw Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James, hand out medals to 39 students, trainees, apprentices and employees who all won at competitions in 2014.

Pembrokeshire College students and graduates Annalea Lawrence, 39, from Pembroke; Luke Lawrence, 20, and Nicola Ashby, 32, from Pembroke Dock; Gabriella Coates, 19, from Tenby, and Marie Crayford, 44, from Saundersfoot, each took medals after triumphing in their chosen skill sector.

The Deputy Minister said: “This event is about celebrating the successes of our Welsh winners at Skills Competition Wales and The Skills Show, a group of people who will now act as role models to young people in Wales.

“These competitions help drive up standards in vocational skills and help us showcase the talent we have in Wales all over the world.

“We’re showing that we have talented students, trainees, apprentices and employees and we have forward-thinking training companies, colleges and employers.

“These competition winners are a testament to what can be achieved through dogged determination as well as skill.”

During Skills Competition Wales, the country’s most talented learners battled it out in competitions ranging from reflexology to web development to be named the ‘best in Wales’ in their chosen skill.

Initially, entrants competed against colleagues within their college and the best were then entered to compete at a national level, as part of heats organised within colleges across Wales by Skills Competition Wales (SCW).

In addition, The Skills Show, at the NEC in Birmingham then saw over 600 participants from across the UK take part in more than 60 competitions to be named the ‘best in the UK’.

Annalea and Nicola were awarded bronze and silver medals respectively in the reflexology category at Skills Competition Wales; Marie in aromatherapy, while Gabriella took gold in beauty therapy. Luke Lawrence was highly commended in the welding category at The Skills Show.

Gabriella said: “The Skills Show experience has been absolutely amazing.

“It’s one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done but I learned so much from it and the end result was definitely worth it. I’d recommend it to any learner.”

Backed by the Welsh Government, through the European Social Fund, Skills Competition Wales promotes the importance of developing a highly-skilled workforce, aiming to boost high level skills in Wales.

Barry Liles, WorldSkills Wales Champion and principal at Coleg Sir Gâr, who hosted the event, said:

“Taking part in skills competitions increases employability, employee skills, employer competitiveness, business growth and ultimately improves the economy of Wales.”

“The amount of passion and concentration shown at these events, the results of months and years of hard work, is always fantastic to see and every person involved should be hugely proud of what they have achieved.

“I’m extremely proud to be a part of such an inspiring scheme that has gone from strength to strength over the past four years.”

To register your interest for the next cycle of WorldSkills UK Competitions, visit www.worldskillsuk.org