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Refrigeration students compete in skills competition qualifiers

Five Refrigeration and Air Conditioning students from Eastleigh College recently went head–to-head in competition for a spot at the SkillFridge National Final, taking place at the The Skills Show in November. Success at The Skills Show could even lead to an opportunity to take part in the WorldSkillls UK international competition! 

Stephen TaylorFour Level 2 Apprentices, Jack Culhane, Bayley Mummery, Jake Gorman and David Couch, and Level 3 Apprentice Stephen Taylor, were set tasks such as pipework and brazing tests, as well as testing refrigerant systems for pressure and leaks to industry safety standards.

The students were judged by Mark Forsyth, SkillFridge National Manager; Steven Burge, ex-Eastleigh College student and WorldSkills National team member 2013; Veronika Grozeva, Data team Marketing; Derek Davies from Flame Brazing Services and Kelvin Kelly from Business Edge. 

After a whole day’s worth of maintenance challenges and pipe work fabrication, Stephen Taylor, 19 from Havant, was awarded first prize and has officially secured a place at the SkillFridge national competition at The Skills Show in November 2017. He said “It feels good to have won, I put a lot of effort in. I enjoyed doing the pipework the most. There’s lots of things I can work on before The Skills Show, like my brazing and making sure I put caps on condensing units.

“The competition has boosted my confidence. I did it last year as well, and it was really helpful getting tips from the judges, which I’ve now put into practice.”

Commenting on the judging process, Kelvin Kelly, Training Director at Business Edge, said, “We were mainly looking to see that the students could work safely under pressure and follow instructions. I was impressed by the students’ enthusiasm, I could see they enjoyed it and found it a challenge.”

Co-judge Steve Burge, who made the World Skills national team in 2013 and now works at Cosham Refrigeration, gave the following advice to this year’s winner: “It’s not just about practical skill; it’s mental ability and how you overcome problems. Push yourself, and listen to your lecturers and the training managers.

“You learn how to be an engineer at college, but you learn how to be a better engineer through these competitions.”

To find out more about the WorldSkills success click here, or visit the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning careers page to find out more about what's offered at Eastleigh College.