Three Myerscough College learners have made the final of the 2017 Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) WorldSkills Landscape Gardening Competition.
Ryan Bell, Daniel McGeoghegan and Samuel Taylor all made it through their semi-final last month, where they had to take part in industry led training sessions, alongside building test pieces to showcase their skills, focussing on the latest developments and innovations in the industry. They were given tasks to complete including paving, decking, walling and plant identification, procurement and working to a client’s brief.
The first two days of the semi-final were held at Myerscough College, where the competitors completed the walling, paving and decking tasks. They also had training sessions in different types of paving and the benefits and drawbacks of each type from head judge, Jody Lidgard. On the second day, there was the chance to get hands on with a table top saw and practice cutting porcelain.
The third day took place at J A Jones cash and carry in Southport. Here the competitors took part in a plant ident, and were then given free reign of the nursery to design a garden to meet a client brief. This gave the competitors a real challenge in regard of choosing the right plants to suit each brief and really test their plant knowledge.
After all three impressed the judges they now go through to the national final, which is once again to be held at The Skills Show at the NEC Birmingham, from the 15 to 18th of November. The winner of the UK finals could be eligible for selection to represent the nation at WorldSkills, the largest international skills competition, in 2019 in Kazan, Russia.
Nick Atkinson, Myerscough College’s Assistant Head of Apprenticeships and Skills, said: “It was a great honour for Myerscough to host the semi-finals of such a prestigious competition last month and we are delighted Ryan, Daniel and Samuel have all represented the College extremely well so far.
‘’This is a competition we have done well in previously with one of our learners, Jacob Botting, winning a Gold Medal last year.
Mike Vickers, of sponsor J. A. Jones wholesale tree nursery said of the competition: "J. A. Jones supports the APL WorldSkills competitions to help encourage the students to become the industry leaders of the future, by their education and inspiration through plants."
Fellow sponsor, David Jessop of Marshalls, said encouraging new blood into the landscape industry was imperative: "WorldSkills is a fantastic platform for talented young landscapers to showcase their skills."
Green-tech chairman Richard Kay, another sponsor added: "The APL WorldSkills competitions provide a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of landscaping and inspire future generations in their choice of career. We are delighted to be involved and support the APL with this. I have been very impressed with the standards and quality of work that I have seen so far and am looking forward to the finals."
Matika is also a sponsor. Its marketing manager Kevin Brannigan said it was difficult for the younger generation to get support when starting out: "We think WorldSkills UK is extremely important and deserves greater recognition from both the education sector and within the industry."
Ryan, Daniel and Samuel are looking to follow in the footsteps of 2016 winner, Jacob Botting, also of Myerscough College, who won last year's gold medal at the APL WorldSkills UK final.
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by Dave Salmon