Craig Wheeler from Pembroke celebrated his eighteenth birthday in style by winning the BOC Welsh Apprentice Welder 2010 on Thursday.
He and six other apprentices from across Wales competed for the title at this year’s finals held at Deeside College, Flintshire, on 29-30 June. The competition is part of the UK Apprentice Welding Scheme sponsored by the industrial gases and engineering company BOC. Separate events are also held in Scotland and England.
“I didn’t expect to win,” said Craig, who studies at Mitec in Pembroke. “Each level of the competition was really tough and here at Deeside was the hardest. It was a great birthday present, though!” In addition to a trophy, Craig received a BOC welding helmet, a commemorative tankard, vouchers worth £125 and an iPod.
Craig received his award from Tim Tindle, Managing Director of commercial catering equipment manufacturer IMC, based in Wrexham. “Fostering high level manufacturing skills is vital for the Welsh economy,” he noted. “We must encourage these essential practical skills: these apprentices have a really bright future.”
The Welsh competition is supported by both BOC and the Welsh Assembly Government. For BOC, a member of The Linde Group, encouraging the next generation of engineers and welders is a key part of its business strategy. “Engineering and high quality manufacturing will be a key part of the Welsh economy,” said Dan Williams, BOC Senior Counsel. “It is essential that its young people have the right skills to capitalise on that future. We are proud to help young people across Wales take advantage of these opportunities.”
Colleges across Wales have been taking part in the competition which seeks to recognise the highest level of welding skills in the country. The finals event at Deeside College represents the culmination of a great deal of hard work. David Jones, Principal and Chief Executive of the College, said: “Further education is at the forefront of delivering the skills needed for Wales. So I am delighted that the College has been able to host this important event, which showcases the work of the most talented students in the country.”
Brian Connolly, Director of UK Skills, stressed the vital importance of welding skills for the future as he presented the prizes to the winning students. “Welding is a high-skill technology,” he noted, “and we need highly-talented, highly-motivated young people to secure the future. UK Skills is all about developing those skills. That is why I am delighted to be able to publicly recognise the skills and effort of these young people tonight.”