A Coleg Llandrillo Construction student who represented the UK at the WorldSkills competition in Russia last year, has now been announced as the best apprentice plumber in the UK!
Tom Thomas, 21 from Porthmadog - who is a Level 3 Plumbing and Heating student at the college's Rhos-on-Sea campus - won the national 'HIP Apprentice of the Year 2020' competition. He was awarded £1,000, together with thousands of pounds worth of career-boosting industry tools as prizes. Coleg Llandrillo was also awarded £1,000.
Tom - who is employed by AER Cymru in Penrhyndeudraeth and attends the college on a day-release basis - beat off competition from two other talented plumbing and heating learners in the final, which had a revised format. The other two other finalists this year were Joseph Parkinson from University Academy Holbeach, Lincolnshire and Harry Pegler from South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, Bristol.
Dozens of competitors took part in seven regional heats between January and March across the country, before the lockdown caused the competition to be postponed. The seven regional winners completed a short online test and their scores were added to the regional test results. The top three competed in a one-day live final, at the same time, at their respective colleges.
Tom, who qualified for the UK final after winning the north west heat at Burnley College, said:
The competition was great; it's fantastic to be named the best apprentice plumber in the UK. The final was a step-up from the regional heat - it was a challenge to get it done in time. It's an amazing thing to put on your CV - if I ever need to look for work in future, I can say I've done it and it'll give me a step up.
It definitely increases your technical skills and gives you a focus on being accurate to the point of complete precision. You have to be confident in what you do and not second-guess yourself.
Tom's lecturer Chris Walling said he'd 'happily have Tom working in his house'. He added:
Tom is an excellent practical student who is truly dedicated. He spent hours practising in his own time at home before the competition, which really paid off.
He's great in college and when we visit him on site he's always confident. He can do anything he wants - he's got the practical skills, quality of the work, and he's very studious. The best of luck to him; I'm sure he'll be brilliant at whatever he turns his hands to.
Platinum sponsor, ADEY's Colin Yearp, who helped judge the competition, said:
Well done to everyone involved. All three finalists have brought quality to the whole proceedings and it's great to see the next performing under pressure.
Tom represented the UK at WorldSkills Finals in Kazan, Russia in 2019, winning a Medal of Excellence. He came 4th in the world for plumbing skills!
HIP magazine is the only magazine for plumbing and heating students and apprentices in the UK.
For more information about Construction courses at Coleg Llandrillo, go to www.gllm.ac.uk/construction
or call the college's Learner Services team on 01492 542 338.