Paul Doran, Lecturer at Southern Regional College and WorldSkills UK Training Manager for Wall and Floor Tiling is continuing his hard work to deliver training for the WorldSkills competition throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
He says: “As the construction industry focused its efforts on introducing and navigating new ways of working during this pandemic, I faced a challenge of my own – How could I continue to train apprentices for the WorldSkills Competition (the ‘Skills Olympics’) during the lockdown?
“At the point we were stopped by the COVID-19 restrictions, I had already formulated my training plans with our main sponsor Nicobond, as well as TTA, Building Adhesives, and the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers. I knew that with the EuroSkills and WorldSkills events due to take place next year, any break in training would be disastrous and could mean the difference between winning and losing a medal.
“With the support of our sponsors, I was able to revise my training and continue to prepare my apprentices to carrying on developing their skills remotely.
“Selected after excelling in the WorldSkills UK Nationals Finals at LIVE last November, I am working with four extremely talented young tilers: Dylan Calvert, Odhran Connolly, Dylan Gillanders – all attending Southern Regional College – and Morgan Swift who attends City of Glasgow College. When I first started working with them, I was particularly struck by their professional attitude and commitment but like many other trainers I was conscious that without our face-to-face training sessions, one of the biggest challenges I needed to overcome was keeping them motivated and engaged with the training. I also couldn’t ignore the personal challenges they were each facing around the uncertainty of their apprenticeship and future employment.
“Before I moved my training online, I needed to check first that all my apprentices had access to tablets. I know from my role as a lecturer at Southern Regional College this has been a challenge. With everyone online, I looked at how I could work with them to build on their technical skills. With the competitors not being able to access materials and tools, we discussed in our online sessions the specific skills and techniques that underpin international best practice in tiling.
“This approach has helped them understand the competition in a more comprehensive way. Morgan told me that for the first time she really understood how WorldSkills prepares young people to thrive at the highest level in work, rather than just succeed in competition. An understanding of this will not only help them when they are competing but will support their career progression from apprentice to a senior position on site in a relatively short amount of time.
“Our sponsors have been fantastic as we have had to adjust to training in the challenging times and they will be ready to supply materials when we are able to train face-to-face again. They support WorldSkills because they know training for the competition enhances a young person’s apprenticeship. The event is also the only global platform that exists for us all to promote our industry to the next generation of construction workers.
“Our training for EuroSkills Graz and WorldSkills Shanghai is not what I initially planned, but I am confident that, despite new ways of training, Team UK will deliver a performance on the international stage that the tiling industry can all be proud of.”