NI construction students build a bright future at SkillBuild NI Regional Competition

Apprentices competed across 12 categories, with SERC student Luke McIlwraith named as Haldane Fisher Young Apprentice of the Year...

L-R: Sarah Travers, host, Luke McIlwrath (Haldane Fisher Young Apprentice of the Year) and Barry Neilson, Chief Executive, CITB NI.

Twelve of Northern Ireland’s most talented apprentices could potentially be headed to the SkillBuild UK National Final in Milton Keynes this November after winning their categories in the regional heat.

Hosted by the Construction Industry Training Board NI (CITB NI) in partnership with CITB (GB) and South West College, the annual SkillBuild NI Regional Competition was held at the Technology and Skills Centre in Killyhevlin, Enniskillen. The competition is a search for the
top performers within construction apprenticeship programmes across NI, who will now be ranked against winners in other regional heats to determine who progresses to the National Final.

This year’s regional heat saw 93 of the brightest recruits and top performers within construction apprenticeship programmes competing in 12 categories: Brickwork, Furniture & Cabinet Making, Carpentry, Electrical Installation, Joinery, Painting & Decorating, Fire, Security, Drylining, Plastering, Plumbing, and Wall & Floor Tiling. All first-place winners  received a complimentary pair of safety boots from Denis Wilson at Glenavy and Steel Blue.

The event also saw Luke McIlwrath, who came second in carpentry, named as Haldane Fisher Young Apprentice of the Year, while the Hugh Gettinby Award for best trainer went to  Jimmy Martin of SWC and the SkillBuild Appreciation Award to Paddy Maguire of SRC.

Delivered by CITB GB and supported by the Department for the Economy and local construction companies, SkillBuild provides an opportunity to showcase the high level of skills and impressive talent within the workforce, as well as raising the status and  standards of professional and technical education and training. Barry Neilson OBE, Chief Executive of 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 partners CITB (GB) and 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.”

Celine McCartan, Principal and Chief Executive, said, “We were honoured to host the  SkillBuild NI regional competition at our Technology and Skills Centre in Enniskillen. It’s an  affirmation of our commitment to nurturing talent and providing a platform for skill development. The standard of work on display was exceptional and I wish all the winners every success as they progress to the next stage of the national competitions. Their success is a credit to the further education sector lecturers and partner employers who have been supporting them in advance of the intense competition.”

For further details on SkillBuild NI and CITB NI support for apprenticeships and employers, visit

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