South West College construction apprentices build a bright future at SkillBuild NI regional competition

Enniskillen apprentice David Bateman Smith took first place in the Plumbing category.Enniskillen apprentice David Bateman Smith took first place in the Plumbing category.
Enniskillen apprentice David Bateman Smith took first place in the Plumbing category.
STUDENTS from South West College took part in the Construction Industry Training Board NI (CITB NI) annual SkillBuild NI Regional Competition 2024 competition at South West College Technology and Skills Centre, Enniskillen.

The competition is designed to test skills, technique, ability within tight timeframes, and identifies the top performers in 12 different trade areas within construction apprenticeship programmes from across Northern Ireland. It is a showcase of the wealth of talent, professionalism, and the brightest recruits throughout the industry.

Over 100 of the brightest recruits and top performers within construction apprenticeship programmes from across Northern Ireland competed against each other to win in categories: Brickwork, Cabinet Making, Carpentry, Electrical Installation, Fire and Security, Joinery, Painting & Decorating, Plastering Dry Wall Systems, Plastering, Plumbing, Wall & Floor Tiling.The SkillBuild NI Regional Competition is part of a regional qualifier and three apprentices from South West College scooped top awards.

Omagh apprentice Sean Rafferty, employed with Sean Rafferty Plastering, secured third place in the Plastering competition; Aaron Cassidy, an Omagh apprentice employed with Christopher King Building, achieved second place in the Bricklaying competition; and Enniskillen apprentice David Bateman Smith, employed with Ashley McFarland Plumbing and Heating, took home first place in the Plumbing competition.

The three winners may now have the opportunity to represent Northern Ireland in the SkillBuild UK national final held later in the year.

Additionally, South West College Associate Lecturer in Sustainability, Construction and Transport, Jimmy Martin, was recognised with the prestigious Hugh Gettinby Best Trainer/Lecturer Award.

SkillBuild is delivered by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB GB) and showcases some of the brightest talent in construction.

Supported by the Department for the Economy and local construction companies, the competition provides an opportunity to showcase the high level of skills and the impressive talent within the workforce, as well as raising the status and standards of professional and technical education and training.

Barry Neilson, Chief Executive CITB NI, said: “A huge congratulations to all the apprentices who took part in the SkillBuild NI Regional Competition 2024.

"The event displayed remarkable talent and showcased the dedication of future construction leaders. Witnessing their enthusiasm highlights a promising future for the industry. Apprenticeships are crucial for industry growth, allowing businesses to shape their future workforce and develop necessary skills. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partner SWC for the fantastic showcase of the NI talent pool throughout the competition and we look forward to the SkillBuild UK National Finals in November.”

Chris Robinson, Head of Work Based Learning Programme and Curriculum Support, added,

“The annual SkillBuild NI competition is a fantastic opportunity for SWC apprentices to put their skills and knowledge against the best of the best across the whole of Northern Ireland. Their success is testament to not only their dedication to their career but also the support and expert tutelage of their employers and lecturers at South West College. A huge congratulations to all our apprentices who qualified to take part in the competition and my sincere thanks to their employers and SWC staff. A special word of congratulations to SWC lecturer Jimmy Martin who received the Hugh Gettinby Best Trainer/Lecturer Award.”

For further details on SkillBuild NI and CITB NI support for apprenticeships and employers visit Or to find out more about apprenticeships at South West College visit

Follow CITBNI on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn #SkillBuildNI2024.

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