A 19-year-old from Tonyrefail has won gold in the Nail Services final of a national skills competition.
Skills Competition Wales is a Welsh Government-backed series of events designed to celebrate vocational skills and create a highly skilled Welsh workforce for the future.
With Olympic athletes training hard for the imminent games in Rio, Holly Bailey is just one of 78 Welsh youngsters who have been perfecting their skills in a bid to win a medal. Across a range of vocations from graphic design to patisserie, these budding skilled champions, like Olympians, may go on to challenge competitors from other nations.
Holly, from Coleg y Cymoedd, competed against four other students from across Wales. Finalists completed a series of nail service challenges within a two and a half hour time period where students needed to perform a manicure and apply nail enhancements.
Holly, who is studying a Level 3 Diploma in Nail Technology, said she is thrilled to have won: “Winning the competition was a total shock. I was really nervous on the day, but also excited to be showing off my skills. I did a practice session with my tutors the week before and went through all my techniques until I felt confident and ready for the big day. I’ve been interested in nail art for quite a while, I’m quite an artistic person so I find it really fun to play around with designs while I’m at work at the beauty salon. I’d love to run my own business one day and winning this competition makes me feel like I’m one step closer.”
Judith Evans, Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd said: “The World Skills Competition is a wonderful opportunity for students to compete on a national and international stage. It is important that we encourage as many learners as possible to compete, they have outstanding high level of skills. This is a fantastic achievement for Holly, we wish her well with the stage of the competition.”
Skills Competition Wales forms part of the Welsh Government’s Growth and Sustainable Jobs Programme, designed to promote the importance of vocational skills with the aim of boosting the overall skill capabilities and prosperity of Wales.
Supported by the European Social Fund and the Welsh Government, and run by a network of colleges and work based learning providers, a total of 33 local Skills Competitions will be taking place between February and April, in a range of sectors from forensic science and car mechanics to web design and nail art.
Holly may go forward to represent Coleg y Cymoedd in the Nail Services Worldskills UK heat, with the aim of potentially representing Team Wales at this year's Skills Show in Birmingham in November. She may then be eligible to compete for a place in the squad which will represent the UK at WorldSkills in Abu Dhabi in 2017.
Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James AM said:
“Year on year the level of talent at Skills Competition Wales keeps on improving. These events encourage healthy competition and are a great way of recognising the fantastic talent that we have in our country.
“Dozens of colleges, Sector Skills Councils and work-based learning providers across Wales are already involved in the Skills Competition Wales initiative and have played a huge part in organising the heats and finals, but we’re keen to see more Welsh businesses support their talented young employees and encourage them to enter.”
The Deputy Minister added: “It takes a lot of hard work to get to the final round but to win gold is a fantastic achievement. It is clear that all the competitors are extremely passionate and determined to be named the best in Wales.
“We wish Holly and all the other finalists and winners the very best of luck, not only in the next round of the competitions, but also in their future careers.”