Bricklaying and Joinery students at North Notts College showcased their hard work and skill as they took part in an Inter-College competition between Rotherham College, North Notts College and Dearne Valley College in the final days of the year.
The competition was part of the WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence Programme, which aims to raise the standards in technical training and Apprenticeships across the UK. The three Colleges (all part of RNN Group) joined the programme in 2020 and have since worked closely with WorldSkills, through competitions, training and teaching to upskill students and staff.
The late December competition saw both Level 1 Bricklaying students and Level 1 Joinery students compete in a time-sensitive event, where industry experienced judges assessed their work.
Mick Cox, Brick Skills Assessor and Neil Duffy, Construction Lecturer and Technician were the appointed judges for the Level 1 Bricklaying competition. Here, seven students were first briefed on their assignment, to build a T-Junction wall that was two layers of brick in height, and were then given one hour to build and produce their work.
The students were then assessed on their use of personal protective equipment (PPE), their workplace preparation, measurements, use of equipment and end product. Mick spoke about the importance of these competitions and the part they play in the development of students’ abilities.
He said: “Throughout the academic year, students will be helped and guided by tutors daily, but in the Pressure Tests, the students learn to stand on their own two feet. They apply the knowledge they’ve learned to read and understand drawings and execute an end product in a set out time frame.
“By working in a pressurised environment like this, the students will get a sense of what their future working conditions are like and they will receive feedback from me and understand where they need to improve to reach the standards of employment.”
Harry Smith, Construction Technician, specialising in Joinery, was another judge who was full of praise for the students. Harry assessed the Level 1 Joinery students as they performed their Inter-College Pressure Test. The students were tasked with making a frame with four different joints: DoveTail Halving, Bridle Joint, T Halving and Mortice and Tenon.
Being assessed on elements such as accuracy in relation to marking out, joint making, shape, finish and execution, the students put their skills to the test in the competition, which was made to mimic the pressures of a real working environment.
We caught up with Level 1 Joinery student Owen Hunt after he had completed his Pressure Test. Owen commented on the challenging element of time, in the pressure test and reflected upon how the test differed from previous graded assessments.
He said: “The Pressure Test forms a different working environment than regular workshop tasks. Normally I would start a project in the morning and work on it throughout the day, but the Pressure Test is similar to a real working environment, where I have a clear deadline.
“This real-life working environment has made me realise that I need to slow down a bit and spend more time on my work. It’s been a good experience overall.”