Youngsters compete to represent the nation at Skills Olympics
Two talented students from Nescot College’s computing department have been shortlisted for the national finals of WorldSkills UK later this month, where they will compete for the chance to represent Britain at the 2011 WorldSkills Games in London.
Elliot Becken, 18, from Epsom and Robert Simmons, 17, from Mitcham used their exceptional technical abilities to compete in one of a network of countrywide regional skills events earlier this year. As high achievers in these contests, held by UK Skills to find the best of British talent for London 2011, the pair have now been chosen to compete in the UK finals.
Simon Bartley, Chief executive of UK Skills, the body tasked with selecting and training Team UK, said: ‘On 6 October 2011, the young people of Team UK will be starting their first day of competition at WorldSkills London 2011. This is a huge event involving about a thousand young people from more than 50 nations, competing over four days to complete their projects under intense time pressure.
‘WorldSkills competitors will be identified from the top achievers from this year’s WorldSkills UK competitions. We needed the best of our skilled talent to enter these competitions so we can pick the best of the best for our 2011 team.’
Competitors from across the nation were judged on speed and quality of work and both Robert and Elliot were shocked to receive emails telling them they had scored among the highest in the country to qualify for the national finals.
Robert, who came to Nescot from Raynes Park High School and will compete in the Microsoft networking UK final at Northumberland College on 18th June, said, ‘I didn’t go into it really seriously at the time, it just looked like a chance to do something different and learn something new. I was shocked to get the email telling me I had got through to the final – I’m taking it seriously now!’
Elliot, who shone in the Cisco ICT Networking event, agreed that moving up to the national finals had changed his view of the competition and his chances. He insisted, however, that he was going to focus solely on the UK event at Northumberland College on the 18th of June and not let thoughts of representing his country unsettle him.
‘I am a bit daunted at the thought of all the scrutiny but we’re training hard for this with our tutors from nine to five,’ he said, ‘I’m just going to concentrate on doing my best for this event.’
The competitions are structured around the Cisco and Microsoft official curriculum for professionals working in the IT industry, so the standard required in the set tasks was of a much more exacting technical level than the boys had encountered in their current studies.
Both felt that they had managed to raise their game through a hunger for knowledge, which had led them to develop their skills to this much higher degree.
‘I’m interested in things,’ said Elliot, who went to Blenheim School ‘I always want to find out more and I really want to learn.’
Robert agreed, ‘I’ve always been curious about how and why things work,’ he said.
Should the hard work pay off and they go through to the final stages, the boys will face months of intensive training before a "play-off" to get into the national team.
Course tutor Kamadchisundaram Sureshkumar, pointed out that the two were very young to have got this far, ‘We’re just going to go as far as we can,’ he said. ‘I have every confidence in their abilities and they are working very hard. Because of their ages, they can use this as a learning experience and go through again next year so there’s less pressure.’
The ICT Networking Cisco competition comprises of the installing, configurating, maintaining and troubleshooting of ICT networks, testing the knowledge and skills from the Cisco CCNA Cisco Certified Network Associate) qualification, a professional industry qualification for those working within the IT industry.
The ICT Networking Microsoft competition comprises of the installation, configuration, maintenance and troubleshooting of ICT networks testing knowledge and skills learned in the Microsoft official curriculum range of qualifications for IT professionals.
The UK’s WorldSkills team is managed by UK Skills working in partnership with the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, the Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland, the Scottish Governement, the Welsh Assembly Government and key partners from education, government and industry. The aim of the event is to "raise the profile and status of vocational skills, technicians and specialist crafts to a wider audience".
Successful competitors are awarded Gold Bronze and Silver medals, as in the Olympics.