Former Newcastle College student looks to build on competition success

Posted On 12th September 2012 By Chris Knox

Having triumphed in the North East regional heat of SkillBuild – the UK’s largest multi-trade competition – former Newcastle College’s construction student Kirsty Neilson is waiting to hear whether she has scooped first prize at the finals in Preston.

Kirsty Neilson, who works at Iain Grieve Décor, is currently competing in the Painting and Decorating category against the best trainees in the country.

The three day competition is staged by CITB-ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council and Industry Training Board for the construction industry and will see over 100 talented individuals battling to be crowned the best in their field in a range of skills including Bricklaying, Joinery, Painting and Decorating and Carpentry.

Kirsty, 22 and from Eyemouth, Berwick Upon Tweed, studied NVQ3 in Painting and Decorating at Newcastle College and graduated in July this year.

She said: “I am really looking forward to representing Newcastle College and the North East of England in the National Final of the Skillbuild competition. To compete in such a prestigious competition is an honour.”

SkillBuild is run by CITB-ConstructionSkills as part of its commitment to training and excellence and ongoing efforts to bring new blood into the construction industry. This year’s final is being hosted by Preston College, with the winners being announced at a closing dinner reception at Preston Guild Hall on Friday.

Nicki Turnbull, Director of School, School of Construction, said: “It’s a fantastic achievement that one of our students has done so well in such a highly regarded competition. Competitions like this are so important in developing and encouraging talent among our learners.”

In addition to category winners, the best bricklayer in the competition will be awarded the Peter Vickers Shield and the best overall competitor will win the Frank Eaton Award.

This year will also see the introduction of a new award ‘Best Performing College’ which celebrates the college that enters the highest scoring competitors in the competition.

Mick Hamill, Regional Delivery Manager for CITB-Construction Skills in the North said: “We’re so pleased to be able to bring together and motivate the country’s most promising construction trainees in this nationwide competition. SkillBuild encourages excellence, helps to raise standards in training and is an exciting way to showcase the outstanding talent coming into the construction industry.”

Dr. Lis Smith, Principal and Chief Executive at Preston College added: “We’re extremely proud to be the host of this year’s Skill Build Final. For many years, our students have entered the competition and achieved success and we look forward to hosting some of the industry’s top trainees and to working with CITB-ConstructionSkills to promote excellence among our students. The level of skill and professionalism is remarkable, and we wish each participant the best of luck in their respective categories.”

The main sponsors for this year’s SkillBuild are British Gypsum, Crown Paints Ltd and Stabila.

For more information about SkillBuild please go to