21st April 2017

Talented construction trainees from across the South West gathered at South Devon College on Thursday 20th April to compete in the South West Regional Heat of SkillBuild 2017.

SkillBuild is a national construction competition delivered by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). The competition has been running for over 45 years touring the country looking for the best in regional talent from the construction industry. Trainees were put through their paces during the day showcasing the very best skills in all disciplines under the watchful eye of expert judges.


58 competitors took part coming from 9 colleges across the South West region. Trades such as carpentry, cabinet making, brickwork, plastering, joinery and painting and decorating were all represented. The standard of entries at the competition was exceptional, with everyone involved competing for the right to participate in the national finals which will be held at The Skills Show, Birmingham NEC in November 2017.


In addition to the competition, there were numerous ‘Have a Go’ activities. Over 300 primary and secondary school students from across Torbay and Newton Abbot had the chance to engage in fun and exciting activities, all organised by Kier, Morgan Sindall, BAM, Redrow, Willmott Dixon and Midas. There was also a trade show with 15 local companies offering information, demonstrations and activities for all.

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Primary school child gets a lesson on how to patch plaster from staff at South Devon College.

Chris and Jules from BBC’s DIY SOS were invited to attend the SkillBuild competition. They took part in the ‘Have a Go’ activities and were happy to share their hints and tips with the students.

Chris Frediani and Julian Perryman said, “We really enjoyed supporting Skillbuild at South Devon College If we can do a little bit to encourage people to get into construction, they might choose to study it and make a good career out of it. That’s why it is so important to inspire them at a younger age. We need to back the colleges, we need to push on with apprenticeships and I am taking several on next year. It is the construction industry that will keep Great Britain, great.”

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Local primary and secondary school children pictured with Chris and Jules from the BBC’s DIY SOS.

The South West regional heats have become one of the largest in the SkillBuild calendar. Tibby Singh, former Skillbuild winner and now a Skillbuild judge, said, “As always it was a great heat and very well organised. The Skillbuild competition is the biggest trade competition throughout the UK, ran by CITB. It is a great platform for competitors to expand on their trade and pursue their career even further, and employers really value the experience competitors get from it.”


There was an electric atmosphere at the College as students and guests visited the construction workshops throughout the day to see the students compete.


South Devon College students from both the Paignton and Newton Abbot Campus celebrated victories on the day.  In total 5 gold medals, 1 silver medal and 5 bronze medals were won in what was a fantastic achievement for the College and its construction students. The winners included:


  • Gold – Bricklaying  (New Entrant) –  Luke Collens
  • Gold – Joinery  (New Entrant) – Jack Hutchinson
  • Gold – Painting and Decorating (New Entrant) – Ashley Dove
  • Gold – Plastering (New Entrant) –  Reece Davis
  • Gold – Plastering (Senior) – Glenn Bullock
  • Silver – Carpentry (New Entrant) –  Graham Collins
  • Bronze –  Bricklaying (New Entrant) – Myles Churchill
  • Bronze – Carpentry (New Entrant) – Charlie Collingsworth
  • Bronze  – Painting and Decorating (New Entrant) – Ben Perkins
  • Bronze  – Painting and Decorating (Senior) – Karyn Jeavons


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As well as the many judges assessing the competition, the College welcomed various VIP guests from CITB, The Sherford Development, Building Plymouth, and the College’s partners in Step In Step Up. They were treated to a tour of the facilities at the College, before seeing the next generation of tradesmen and women in action as they competed for the coveted bronze, silver and gold medals.


Stephen Criddle, Principal of South Devon College said, “We were delighted to be chosen to host this regional heat of the SkillBuild competition, and welcome some of the best talent in the South West to our campus to showcase their skills. We would like to thank the many partners and organisations that supported us on the day and helped make the event such an incredible success from start to finish. It is great to see young talent coming forward in this key sector and also such enthusiastic primary school pupils.


As part of our ongoing commitment to address a skills gap in the construction industry, this was a fantastic opportunity to highlight some of our exceptional learners and their skills, who will no doubt go on to make great contributions in industry. I would like to personally congratulate everyone involved, and wish those competing in regional heats up and down the country the best of luck.”


The event involved a number of students from across the College who were on hand to help. Food was provided by the Catering and Hospitality students.  Students from the Youth Work Practice course acted as mentors for the school children, and Construction and Travel & Tourism students were happy to act as tour guides for the day.  A-level and High School photography learners were on hand to capture the day.


For more information on SkillBuild, please email enquiries@southdevon.ac.uk or call 08000 380123. Alternatively, to find out more about Construction courses come along to our next Open Evening on the 17th May 5pm-8pm at our Vantage Point Campus, Long Road, Paignton, TQ4 7EJ.



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