Dunbia refrigeration and air conditioning apprentice Luke Courtney has been named the best in the UK after winning Gold at the UK’s national WorldSkills competition which took place at the NEC, Birmingham. Luke studies at South Eastern Regional College (SERC).

500 competitors competed against each other across 61 disciplines to test their skills in front of more than 90,000 spectators.

18-year-old Luke beat off stiff competition from apprentices from across the UK colleges and training providers to win this year’s competition. The apprentices were given a project to install and assemble over the intense three-day competition, under the watchful eye of the judges and visitors.

Luke could now be selected to compete for a place in Squad UK for WorldSkills Kazan 2019.

Ken Webb SERC Principal and Chief Executive of SERC commented; “I would like to congratulate Luke on his fantastic achievement. It is something to be very proud of and I hope he cherishes this for a long time. He is a credit to his mentors Jesse and Terry, family and employer, Dunbia and I have no doubt that they will continue to develop their skills within the industry and have a very successful career. The success is testament to the high standards of technical and professional training provided at SERC and the dedication of our tutors to encourage students to reach their full potential and be the best that they can be.”

SERC Head of School for Construction and Engineering Services John Nixon said; “SERC students are encouraged to get involved in competitions as it demonstrates to future employers the level skill and commitment they have within their industry.  Past winners have successfully progressed into employment, because they have the edge over other students.

“I congratulate the young competitors and I look forward to seeing how many progress to the prestigious WorldSkills competition in WorldSkills Kazan 2019.”

SERC Head of Training William Greer explains: “SERC has witnessed many apprentices take their first steps on a journey that has led to success at UK National, International or even World Skills Competitions.  Showcasing the wide variety of skills and talent we have in this country and we congratulate not only the medal winners but all of those who have taken part in this prestigious competition. Our young people are more ambitious now than ever and we wish all the competitors luck in their future careers within the industry.”

WorldSkills not only encourages competitors to improve their own skills, but provides an example of the high-quality work being produced in training organisations and colleges across NI. The test pieces are designed to challenge the ability of apprentices to follow detailed instructions, test skills within tight timeframes, and produce neat and accurate work – all essential requirements for today’s working environment. As Luke’s employer, meat processor, Dunbia recognises the skill levels and abilities which the apprentices gain through this programme.  “Luke is an excellent apprentice with a very positive future ahead of him,” comments Daniel Rowntree, Dunbia Maintenance Training Manager. “At Dunbia, we are delighted for Luke personally but we also see his award as an excellent endorsement of the standard of the SERC Apprenticeship programme which offers excellent opportunities to young people.”