WorldSkills: A Year in Review

Date: 26 February 2019

David Kehoe takes a look back to last year’s WorldSkills competition

British Gypsum is proud to support events such as WorldSkills and the young people who make the competition such a success. Our National Technical Training Representative and WorldSkills Expert, David Kehoe tells us all about last year’s UK Competitions, with an emphasis on the final, which took place at the NEC in Birmingham in October.

At British Gypsum, we’ve been proudly investing in young talent across the country for more than 50 years. Our efforts take many forms; whether it’s establishing initiatives like the Thistle Partnership, or our role in crafting the new Plasterer Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standards. We also offer on-going support to WorldSkills, inspiring the next generation of talented tradespeople to be ambitious in their careers by testing themselves against the very best in the UK. Before we embark on another year of support, I thought it was time to reflect on the success of last year’s WorldSkills. 

National Training Manager for British Gypsum

Last year’s WorldSkills UK Competitions began in March, when regional qualifier events were held in schools and colleges across Britain. I attended many of these events supporting the aspiring plasterers and dryliners in their efforts to progress through to the next stage. Each year those that succeed at the regional qualifiers get the opportunity to progress through to the WorldSkills UK Final. 

One regional qualifier that sticks out to me was held at York College in the middle of summer. It was a remarkably sunny day with everyone in high spirits. The event was well-attended, with a number of high-quality participants involved. During the event, I spoke to a number of competitors about their ambitions in the world of plastering and drylining and was blown away by the responses I received. Many had put great thought into their future plans, and all believed that events like WorldSkills were helping them progress. 

York College construction skills centre

As with all the regional qualifiers, British Gypsum supplied a range of materials for the event, including Gypframe and Thistle Bonding 60. The competitors’ task tested participants not only on their technical abilities but on their time management skills, character and commitment. 

After the regional qualifiers had been completed, it was time to move onto the WorldSkills UK Live final in the NEC in Birmingham. This time, in the Plastering and Dry Wall Systems category, the participants were tasked with installing internal linings using lightweight steel frame systems, plasterboard and plaster products. In the Plastering competition they were required to interpret drawings, apply plaster with minimal wastage and position and run moulds accurately. 

Worldskills 2018

The final was a great occasion and highlighted the unbelievable talent that our industry has at its disposal. John McMenamin of City of Glasgow College was awarded Gold in the Plastering competition, with Michael Granger of East Kent College and Lewis Smith of Smith and Essex Ltd taking Silver and Bronze, respectively. In the Plastering and Dry Wall Systems competition, Steven Owen of Coleg Menai emerged victorious with Ryan Carlyle of North West Regional College taking Silver and Carnard Kennan of South West College taking Bronze.  


The winners of the WorldSkills UK final now have the opportunity to continue progressing through the process and onto EuroSkills 2020 in Graz, Austria. If successful in Graz, participants may progress further and become a member of Team UK at WorldSkills Shanghai 2021. I’m looking forward to seeing how this current group gets on and have high hopes that with the right support they can achieve further excellence. 

At British Gypsum, we believe that events like WorldSkills are making a big difference in the construction industry. The competition, which is growing from strength-to-strength is helping to shift the narrative around what role young people can play on-site in 2019 and beyond. With the proper support and access to materials, young people can achieve great things in our industry.   

Watch our video to see some of the competitors in action and what the competition means to them.

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