Students aim for top awards

THREE Suffolk students are to take on the country's best tradesmen after being named among the region's best young builders.Dale Cracknell, Matthew Elsdon and Katie Pitts came out tops in the regional heats of the Skillbuild competition, which tested their skills and practical knowledge at the highest level.

THREE Suffolk students are to take on the country's best tradesmen after being named among the region's best young builders.

Dale Cracknell, Matthew Elsdon and Katie Pitts came out tops in the regional heats of the Skillbuild competition, which tested their skills and practical knowledge at the highest level.

Dale and Matthew, both studying at Otley, won in the plastering and brick laying categories, while Katie, a student at Suffolk New College, won first place in painting and decorating, and will now represent the East of England in the national final of the competition.

It will be Dale's second year competing in the final, which this time is taking place in Leeds in October.

“I'm really pleased to win. I know the final will be even harder but I'm really looking forward to returning to compete in the finals again,” said Dale.

Katie said: “I have really enjoyed SkillBuild. The competition is challenging but completing it has given my confidence a real boost. I'm excited to compete in Leeds.”

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Skillbuild, managed by ConstructionSkills , aims to promote excellence among young people entering the building industry.

The competition pits the young builders against each other in a wide range of construction trades including bricklaying, carpentry, cabinet making, joinery and painting and decorating.

Fifty entrants from across the region entered the competition, which was open to all 17 to 21 year old men and women currently training in construction through further education colleges or work-based apprenticeships.

Apprenticeship manager for ConstructionSkills in the East of England, Georgina Bill said: “Britain has some extremely talented young tradespeople who deserve to be recognised for their skill and it was great to see so many people competing in the regional heats.

“The East of England construction industry needs 11,010 new recruits every year for the next five years in order to meet demand.

“Events such as Skillbuild are vital to help raise the profile of the industry and highlight the opportunities available to young people.”

National winners will go forward to represent their country in WorldSkills, the skills 'Olympics', held every two years in different cities across the world. The next will be in 2009 in Calgary, Canada.

DID YOU KNOW?

The construction industry employs 2.5 million people and has a turnover of more than £203bn a year. It requires a further 87,600 new entrants per year to 2011.