Steven Kokolin has been named as Wales' top welding apprentice after winning this year's Welder Wales competition.
The 21-year-old apprentice with Pembroke College beat strong competition from across Wales during the final held at Neath Port Talbot College (NPTC) on Friday.
Welder Wales encourages excellence in welding skills amongst Welsh trainees and apprentices. It is sponsored by BOC, the UK's largest supplier of welding gases, and supported by the Welsh Assembly Government with partial funding from the European Social Fund (ESF).
Steven said: "It's a real honour to win this award and although it's been a lot of hard work it's been totally worth it. I've learned so much and taking part has helped me boost my skills. I would like to thank my employer Mark Leadwood for being so supportive."
Welder Wales is part of the Assembly Government's SkillsCompetition Wales, which involves colleges and training providers across the country holding competitions in a wide range of skills sectors, ranging from plumbing and electrics to catering and hairdressing. The aim to raise the profile of vocational and trades people and encourage Welsh participation in WorldSkills the globe's largest skills competition.
Steven received his award from Education Minister Jane Hutt. She said: "My congratulations to Steven and the other finalists who have worked so hard. Steven is great example of the sort of vocational talent Wales has to offer. He is a role model and I hope his success will inspire more people to take part in SkillsCompetition Wales.
"SkillsCompetition Wales demonstrates how we are educating a new generation of highly skilled workers making Wales attractive to employers and strengthening our economy."
For companies like BOC, a member of the Linde Group, the global industrial gases and engineering company, encouraging the next generation of engineers and welders is vital.
"The economy needs highly skilled, highly motivated individuals in order to take full advantage of the upturn," commented Dan Williams, Senior Counsel for BOC in the UK & Ireland. "The Apprentice Welding Competition is a new way of doing that and we are proud to support this initiative."
Colleges across Wales took part in the competition which seeks to recognise the highest level of skills in this field. The final at Neath Port Talbot College represents the culmination of many months of hard work. Rob Fowler, Deputy College Principal, said: "The College, like others across Wales, is at the heart of efforts to educate and train the skilled, confident workers the Welsh economy needs in the coming years. So we are very proud to be able to host this event today."
Neath Port Talbot College
- Neath Port Talbot College (NPTC) is the second largest Further Education Institute in Wales. It offers hundreds of courses on a full and part-time basis.
- Over 15,500 students and more than 800 staff study and work across eight of its campuses.
- NPTC is a Beacon Award winning college and is the only college in Wales to hold the Basic Skills Quality Mark for delivery of basic skills to all students post 16 in both FE and Work Based Learning.
- NPTC is the first FE College accredited to run BSc Hons Childhood Studies/Care Studies.
1. The winners of the regional finals contested the national final on 8-10 July at Neath Port Talbot College.
2. The UK Apprentice Welding Competition is an initiative of the Learning and Skills Council, and UK Skills.
3. It runs for three years, starting in September 2008, across England, Scotland and Wales.
4. The competition is open to candidates of any age, but they must be engaged upon a course of training recognised by an award body
5. Entrants to this competition may see this as sound preparation for the SkillWeld programme with the aim of participating in the WorldSkills international competition which will be held in the UK in 2011. However, for this event only candidates up to 22 years old can participate.
6. Photographs to accompany this press release can be obtained from fay.harris@ or simon.napper@