Posted on 20 November 2023

After more than 1,000 registrations and 17 regional heats, the top construction trainees from across the UK have been named as competitors at the SkillBuild National Final 2023.

Delivered by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), SkillBuild showcases some of the brightest talent in construction. The prestigious competition brings together highly skilled learners and apprentices to battle it out to be crowned winner of their chosen trade.

The West Yorkshire regional heats took place on 29 June at Leeds College of Building across eight different disciplines. This year, a record number of Leeds College of Building students were selected for the national final and the largest cohort from any single college in the UK.

Archie Kitching (Brickwork), Daniel Fairclough and Nathan Richards (Plastering & Drylining Systems), Newton Robinson and Wesley Proud (Plastering), George Jewitt-Knott, Aeron Murray, and Daniel Sperry (Roof Slating & Tiling), and Sam Cowgill (Wall & Floor Tiling) will all represent Leeds College of Building at the competition.

For the first time, this year’s final will be held at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, England on 21, 22 & 23 November 2023. The arena has previously played host to the National Badminton Championships, major darts tournaments and various music concerts, and will now see 80 of the best construction trainees demonstrate their expertise.

Across the three days competitors will be tasked with constructing a project designed by an expert panel of judges, within an 18-hour timeframe. The project will test the individual’s knowledge and skills, as well as their ability to work under pressure, ensuring they adhere to health and safety protocols.

CITB’s latest Construction Skills Network (CSN) report states that almost 225,000 extra workers will be required to meet UK construction demand by 2027. SkillBuild is a fantastic opportunity to alter common misconceptions of the industry and promote the diverse range of roles available.

Mark Sims, Leeds College of Building Skillbuild Coordinator, said: “This year, we had 24 of our learners compete at the regional competition. We were overwhelmed and proud to have nine of these participants secure their place in the national finals.

“The dedication, hard work, and commitment applied by both learners and staff is second-to-none and evidenced by the standard of work produced in the training sessions leading up to the national finals. We, as a college, would like to wish each and every competitor the best of luck and hopefully our learners will secure some medal places.”

Nikki Davis, Leeds College of Building Principal & CEO, added: "Everyone at Leeds College of Building is delighted with the performance of the students who took part in the regional finals. Those progressing to the national finals have the opportunity to test their skills against the best in the country and we wish all of them every success.

“All those who took part in the regionals demonstrated exceptional commitment and professionalism, and we were very proud of every one of our students. SkillBuild is a fantastic opportunity for students to really showcase their skills, push them to the limit, and possibly go on to represent their country at WorldSkills.”

Leeds College of Building has an exceptional track record in SkillBuild competitions. Three students took medal positions at last year’s national final. At a special award ceremony presented by Steph McGovern in her Packed Lunch studio, apprentice Zara Dupont received gold in the Plastering and Drywall Systems category. Fellow students Kyron Sharlotte and Aaron Brady also took bronze positions in Roof Slating & Tiling and Wall & Floor Tiling respectively, while Aeron Murray received Highly Commended in Roof Slating & Tiling.

Tim Balcon, CITB Chief Executive, said:

“I’m delighted to be hosting this year’s SkillBuild National Final at the Marshall Arena, providing us with the opportunity to invite members of the public to observe the incredible talent coming through to industry. SkillBuild is a wonderful initiative which aims to attract a diverse range of recruits, and with the current skills gap, it places even greater importance on the competition and its ability to promote construction careers to a wider audience.

“SkillBuild not only helps young people to grow personally, increasing their confidence and social skills, but it’s also proven to assist them professionally by developing their technical and employability skills. While a challenging experience, if you’re serious about a career in construction, SkillBuild is an excellent opportunity. I wish all our National Finalists the best of luck, and we look forward to seeing you later this month!”

See the full list of finalists on Go Construct, and visit the Eventbrite page to get tickets to attend SkillBuild.