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Curtis secures TeamUK place heading to Russia

Life-Changing Decision for Skilled Elite

The UK’s best and brightest young skilled apprentices and students have been selected to represent all four nations in Team UK at the ‘Skills Olympics’ in Russia.

More than 30 young professionals from engineering, hospitality and professional services, construction and digital and IT - have cleared the highest hurdle in a two-year challenge to be the best in the World.

Hillsborough man Curtis Johnston, 21, from SERC, has been selected for TeamUK with his impressive plastering skills. The Level 3 Plastering student based at the Lisburn Campus faced tough competition in Nottingham last week.  

He said, “I had a set number of hours to complete tasks which put all my plastering skills and learning to the test. I was up for the challenge and am delighted to be part of TeamUK heading to Kazan."  

He added, “For the past two years I have been following a rigorous training programme and have received world-class technical training and mindset and performance coaching organised by WorldSkills and thankfully all the hard work and determination has paid off.  I am chuffed with the result and looking forward to going to Russia.”

Competitors, Callum Bonner from Forth Valley College and Mark Scott from City of Glasgow College, competing in Painting and Decorating and Wall and Floor Tiling respectively in a Selection Competition hosted by SERCs Lisburn Campus last week also secured places in TeamUK.

These skilled young people have already triumphed in regional and national competitions and had one more momentous obstacle to overcome at Team Selection events the length and breadth of the UK.

The results were revealed at Loughborough University which has a strong association with training Team GB for the Olympics.  Team UK will represent the United Kingdom at The WorldSkills Finals in Kazan, Russia in August (22-27).

Ken Webb, Principal and Chief Executive, SERC said, “We are delighted for Curtis. He has demonstrated exceptional skills in plastering.  His selection as part of TeamUK illustrates that he has the highest skill levels and commitment necessary to be one of only 32 young people from across the UK who will be heading to Kazan in Russia.   It is a tremendous honour for Curtis who has been recognised as the best of the best in his skill area and for the College as it exemplifies the high-quality training on offer here at SERC.”  

Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE, CEO of WorldSkills UK, which selects and trains the team and uses their successes to promote skills across the country, said: “Think Olympic Games – but much more important to the economic future of the United Kingdom."

“This is a life-changing opportunity for all those involved."   

“I couldn’t be more proud of these extraordinary young people who will be on the plane to Russia.  They have worked tirelessly for weeks, months and years to be the best – they are a shining example to the next generation – let’s celebrate their spirit, commitment, and success."   

“We are not only giving young people the opportunity to reach their full potential, but we also believe that, working with them, we can transfer the insights gained from competing against other countries into the wider UK economy, driving up training standards for young people to world-class levels, giving a much-needed boost to productivity.”

More than 60 countries are sending elite teams to the Tatarstan Capital 800 km east of Moscow - to do battle and go for bronze, silver and gold in 56 different skills disciplines.

The event, dubbed the ‘Skills Olympics’, which takes place every two years, will be shown live on TV and streamed around the World (including the UK) – and change the lives and careers of those that compete.

At the last WorldSkills finals (2017) in Abu Dhabi, Team UK finished in 10th position and is hoping to replicate or better the result.

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