A student from Coleg y Cymoedd has been named among the ‘best in the UK’ at the national final of a major skills competition and now has the chance to go on to compete on a world stage.
Ashleigh Marie Simmons, 19, from Trelewis, was awarded a Silver medal in the Hairdressing category at the WorldSkills UK final, which took place at the prestigious Skills Show in Birmingham from 19 to 21 November.
WorldSkills UK Competitions inspire young people and adults to be ambitious in their pursuit of skills to the highest level and are the highlight of The Skills Show. During the final at the NEC, over 650 of the UK’s most talented apprentices, employees and learners – including 82 from Wales - battled it out in over 40 competitions in their chosen skill ranging from plumbing and cookery to web design and floristry.
To earn their place in the WorldSkills UK final, each learner was required to compete against his or her peers from organisations across the UK through a series of regional competitions.
The selection process for Squad UK also took place during this year’s Skills Show and 20 Welsh competitors were named as part of the squad of 148. These individuals will now have the opportunity to compete for a place in the team that will represent the UK at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017.
Ashleigh Marie said: “Hairdressing is something I’ve always wanted to go into and something that I hope to pursue in the future. As part of the competition, I had to complete five challenges, including copying hairstyles from pictures given to me and creating bridal styles from scratch. The competition was tough at times but it’s great to know that all my heard work has paid off.”
Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James attended the Skills Show this year. Commenting on Wales’ success, she said:
“It gave me great pride to be able to attend the Skills Show and witness Wales’ success in the WorldSkills UK competition first-hand.
“The fact that a record number of learners, apprentices and employees were selected to represent Wales in this year’s final was already an achievement in itself, but for the team to bring home so many medals and to have so many individuals selected to join the UK Squad is a huge credit to their hard work, talent and determination.”
Barry Liles, Skills Champion for Wales, congratulated the competitors on their success.
“The fact that our young people are able to compete with and win against the very best across the UK – and indeed the world – is testament to the impressive level of skills we have here in Wales. Last year, four Welsh youngsters succeeded in progressing right through the ranks of the WorldSkills competition and got to travel to Sao Paolo, Brazil for the world final.
“I hope that the success that these talented individuals have enjoyed will inspire them to go on to become highly skilled employees as well as convincing other young people of the importance of developing their own skills.”
WorldSkills International takes place in cities around the globe and is the largest international skills competition. The next WorldSkills Competition takes place in 2017, in Abu Dhabi. 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.