SERC apprentices put their skills to the test at Worldskills final

Six apprentices from the South Eastern Regional College (SERC) will be showing off their talents at the final of the prestigious Worldskills competition, which will be held this month.
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Alexander Wallace (27), from Saintfield, is a Level 3 Fire and Security Apprentice, David Fairley from Dromore will compete in the Joinery section, Andrew Reain (Dromara) will show off his plumbing skills, and Zara Shiels , Marija Kuzaite and Eimear McCarthy will be competing in the Confectionery & Patisserie competition.

Looking forward to the national finals, Alexander said: “The biggest challenge will be working against the clock - time goes very fast when you are under pressure. Everything we have to do in the competition is essentially what you could face when out on a job.

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“It took me a while to get to where I am, but the finishing line is in sight, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my apprenticeship."

SERC apprentice Alex WallaceSERC apprentice Alex Wallace
SERC apprentice Alex Wallace

Andrew (18) from Dromara, competed in the WorldSkillsUK Regional Finals early this year and is looking forward to the National Finals.

He said: “In the regional competition, the timing worked out ok for me and I got everything completed, so it will be a case of keeping my nerve and working through everything that must be completed. It will be busy, but I am looking forward to the challenge. My parents, Judith and Paul, and my three brothers are all pleased and excited for me, so I have plenty of support at home and of course I am delighted to be representing my employer, Vincent Cunningham Contractor Ltd and SERC.”

David Fairley (23), from Dromore, has a passion for joinery and hand-crafted furniture. “I am looking forward to representing both Heaney Interiors and the College,” he said. “I have had great support from my employer who has allowed me the time off to take part in the competition and have been mentored by Julian Wilson, Joinery Lecturer at SERC.”

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Marija Kuzaite (17), a Level 3 Patisserie and Confectionery student at the College’s Lisburn Campus plans to keep her cool in the kitchen for what is known as the ‘Olympics of Skills’ competition.

SERC apprentice Jonny HamiltonSERC apprentice Jonny Hamilton
SERC apprentice Jonny Hamilton

“On the first day, we will prepare an afternoon tea which will include pastries and plated desserts, so we can practise these to make sure they are perfect and have a good idea of the timings,” she explained.

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“The second day focusses on a sugar showpiece and sugar paste models, and again this can all be practised prior to the competition, and I will work up my own detailed plan for what will best show my skills and creativity."

Zara Shiels is also set to display her confectionery and patisserie skills at the WorldSkillsUK finals. “Right now, I am focussing on building my skills and experience on the Level 3 in Confectionery and Patisserie,” said Zara. “I am busy with my own micro bakery business, Blixt Bakery, and enjoying the success, including supplying a local coffee shop, Audicity Coffee, in East Belfast. I am so, so busy, but I am busy being happy too. I really am having my cake and eating it!”

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