Forty-five young people from across Wales have brought home medals from the largest UK-wide skills competition, Worldskills UK.
Wales topped the leader board celebrating a clutch of 45 medals including 11 gold, 17 silver, 14 bronze and 3 highly commended at the final, which took place at the prestigious Skills Show in Birmingham from 17 to 19 November.
WorldSkills UK inspires young people and adults to be ambitious in their pursuit of skills to the highest level.
More than 500 apprentices, learners and students from all over the UK battled it out in 61 competitions in skills ranging from plumbing and cookery to web design and floristry to be named best for their skill.
Competitors were put through their paces, completing a series of tasks in front of a panel of judges, from cooking a fine dining three course meal in under three hours to creating a bridal ‘up-do’.
These Welsh medal winners also include one gold, three silver and a bronze medal from the Inclusive Skills competitions, designed to celebrate vocational skills for young people with learning difficulties or disabilities.
Peter Rushforth, from Leeswood in Mold, is one of the eleven gold medal winners. The 21 year-old said he was proud to represent his country in the butchery category:
“I competed in five different categories at the event and all my butchery skills were tested including sausage making, BBQ display and the seaming and boning beef. There were six of us competing and I was the only one from Wales this year so I was flying the flag for my country, and I’m thrilled to have been awarded the gold medal.
“I'm currently doing my apprenticeship with Cambrian Training whilst working in Swans Farm shop, Treuddyn, so it’s been really challenging at times to juggle everything. I think winning gold will help with my career; it’s great for my CV as the Skills Show is well-recognised in the industry.
“I've had so much support from my employer who has invested a lot of time, effort and resources - I really couldn’t have done it on my own!
“My dad came to pick me up when I got back from Birmingham, and he drove me around with my award to show everyone, we visited my boss, my nan, and now it's in the shop cabinet for all the customers to see!"
The winning individuals may now have the opportunity to compete for a place in the team that will represent the UK at WorldSkills Kazan in Russia 2019.
WorldSkills is supported by the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund, to promote the importance of a highly-skilled workforce, aiming to boost high level skills in Wales.
Wales has come a long way since WorldSkills London in 2011. The nation has seen an increase in the number of competitors year on year and is now positioned first in the UK regional league table.
Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James, believes the Skills Show is an excellent way to recognise the young talent in Wales.
After attending the event in Birmingham on Friday and commenting on the incredible medal haul achieved at this year’s event, the Minister said:
“This is excellent news for Wales and I am immensely proud of everything Team Wales has achieved at this year’s show. With Wales sending more competitors than any other region and the team returning with a total of 45 medals, they really are a credit to the country.
“Attending the Skills Show is a highlight of the year for me as I get to see first-hand the talented individuals nurtured here in Wales.
“Skills form the basis of our day-to-day life, and events like this show the importance of ensuring young people develop their abilities and ultimately help reduce any skills shortages we face in the UK.
“It takes hard work and determination to compete against the UK’s most talented apprentices and learners and I’m looking forward to watching our Welsh competitors progress, whether that’s on to the next stage of the competition or in a successful career.”