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Student bricklayers triumph in skills contest

Sunderland College bricklaying apprentice Connor Pearson is awarded first prize by Colin Timney, Middlesbrough College

Two bricklaying students from Sunderland College are building bright futures in the industry after success in a regional competition.

Connor Pearson and Jordan King placed first and runner-up in the North East Inter-Colleges Bricklaying Competition, held at Middlesbrough College on April 24.

The pair were chosen by lecturers to represent Sunderland College in the annual contest, which involved 12 students from colleges across the region and saw the trainee bricklayers build a wall while being assessed by three judges.

Nineteen-year-old Connor (pictured), who was crowned overall winner, is completing an apprenticeship with Ian Swansbury Builders and Sons and is studying a Level 2 bricklaying diploma at Sunderland College.

Connor, who is from Ryhope and a keen amateur boxer, has had his fair share of success in the past – coming second in the regional finals of SkillBuild, a competition supported by the construction industry.

He said: “I was overjoyed to win the competition. I have put in a lot of hard work since competing in SkillBuild last year, and it’s great to see that my hard work has paid off.

“I’m really enjoying my apprenticeship and have gained both practical skills and increased my knowledge since my apprenticeship began. I love working with Ian Swansbury Builders and Sons and I have received lots of support from my lecturer at Sunderland College which has really helped me to develop my skills.”

The college has worked closely with Ian Swansbury Builders and Sons, a family run firm based in Ryhope, for the past ten years, and has resulted in the training of six apprentices within the construction industry.

Ian, who runs the building firm with his two sons, said: “Connor is really hard working and is a valued member of my team. I’m thrilled he has won this competition – I think it is very important for my trainees to take part in events like this as it good experience for them. Connor only dropped one mark in the competition, which really is an exceptional achievement.

“We have an excellent relationship with Sunderland College and many of the apprentices we have trained are still working with me. A building boom is predicted within the next few years so we will be looking to work with the college again to train more apprentices in the building trade.”

Jordan, who was awarded runner-up in the inter-colleges contest, is in his first year of a Level 1 bricklaying diploma at Sunderland College.

The 21-year-old from Roker will be starting an apprenticeship with Bewick Building Services and Sunderland College in September after he completes his course.

He said: “I feel very proud for my work to be judged so highly and to come runner-up in the entire competition, especially as I was competing against students who are on Level 2 courses and have more experience than me.

“I have learnt a lot from my Level 1 course and I am excited to start my apprenticeship in September – I’m looking forward to learning new skills and working on building sites so I can gain lots of practical experience.”

Jimmy Stobbart, bricklaying lecturer at Sunderland College, said: “The achievements of Connor and Jordan in this competition are testament to their hard work and dedication. They are both extremely skilled and I have no doubt that they will make fantastic bricklayers when they complete their apprenticeships.

“We believe it is very important to nurture the talents of our students and we are working with a variety of employers to help give our students a head start in their chosen career.”

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