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North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub


ByDave Stopher

May 19, 2021

Apprentices and students from across the UK competed in the National Finals of a nationwide skills competition, showing off their talents in everything from carpentry to creative make-up.

The competition was created by NCG, which runs seven colleges across the UK, to shine a light on the vital skills of industries badly hit by the pandemic. It also gave students the opportunity to get practical work experience in an environment that encourages them to grow their skills, develop employability skills and meet employers.

Supported by NOCN and employers from L’Oreal to EPA Construction and local restaurateurs, NCG Skills was formatted in the same way as WorldSkills UK, with the winners and runners-up being put forward for a place within the high-profile competition.

Five of NCG’s colleges held regional heats between December and February and May’s finals saw students from each college compete against each other. Finals across 10 subject areas were hosted live, with students completing the same timed tasks at the same time across the UK.

Prizes were awarded to the national winner and runner-up in each curriculum area, which will help them in their learning. These include coffee machines and professional knife sets for hospitality, tool kits for those within the construction finals and make-up/hair/beauty tools for those within hair and beauty.

One of the winners was 19-year-old Craig Warnes from Ashington, who is studying Level 3 Hairdressing at Newcastle College. Craig said:

“NCG Skills is the first competition I’ve ever taken part in, so I jumped at the chance and I’ve really enjoyed preparing for it because I’ve been able to come up with my own ideas and make my own decisions, but I’ve still been able to ask for feedback and support from my tutors which has been really helpful.

“With the pandemic, the competition has had to change slightly because in the first round, we got to work on a real client but we did need to be really careful. For the final, we used doll heads and showed our work via photos and streaming live over Teams, but I’ve still really enjoyed the experience and am glad that I was given the opportunity.

“I can’t believe I’ve won and now I’ll progress to WorldSkills, which I think will be a lot of pressure but I’d still love to do it because the competition side of it gives me a lot of motivation and really just helps build skills and confidence. Being able to be back on campus and taking part in a skills competition has also really helped with my motivation.”

Grant Glendinning, NCG Executive Principal North and Strategic Lead for Apprenticeships, commented:

“Since last year while many businesses such as hospitality or beauty have been closed or construction sites have been limited with social distancing measures, vocational work experience has been hard to come by.

“As a national group, our colleges have worked together to offer an alternative, hands-on experience for our students in the form of our NCG Skills competition. Congratulations to all our finalists and well done to the winners. We wish them the best of luck in qualifying for WorldSkills.”

NCG Skills winners 2021:

  • Bricklaying – Shaun Wigzell, Lewisham College
  • Carpentry – Lewis Heaton, Carlisle College
  • Culinary Arts – Owen Connell, Newcastle College
  • Restaurant Services – Ami Ella Patrick, Newcastle College
  • Plumbing – Kamarleo Lawrence, Lewisham College
  • Creative Media Make Up – Sophie Henderson, Carlisle College
  • Hairdressing – Craig Warnes, Newcastle College
  • Beauty – Sophie Cotton, Newcastle College
  • Joinery – Nell Tomlinson, Carlisle College
  • Painting and Decorating – Rebecca Dicks, Lewisham College