An Aghadowey teenager and apprentice carpenter has travelled to South Africa to gain an insight into the work of fellow apprentices there. Samuel Gilmore, who recently took home a highly-coveted gold medal from the UK World Skills competition, travelled to South Africa as an ambassador of Northern Regional College.
After leaving school in 2016, Samuel did a Level 2 Skills for Work course at Northern Regional College’s Coleraine campus. The following year, he was employed by Mark Pollock Joinery in Kilrea and now spends four days with his employer and one day in the College workshop as he works towards achieving a Level 3 award in site carpentry.
The College has been forging links with colleges in South Africa since 2016 through an international skills initiative led by the British Council. Northern Regional College was matched with Sekhukhune TVET College in South Africa and together they established a partnership focusing on carpentry and joinery.
Samuel – accompanied by Northern Regional College’s Assistant Head of Built Environment, David Russell, and carpentry lecturer, Ian Forsythe – had the chance to observe the World Skills South Africa competition in Durban’s International Convention Centre and to visit the Sekhukhune TVET College, as well as a number of training centres and busy local workshops.
Samuel said: “I’ve never visited South Africa before, so this was a really incredible opportunity that I would never have otherwise had. It was extremely interesting to experience what it’s like to be an apprentice joiner in South Africa and to observe the similarities and differences in the trades.”
Northern Regional College’s Internationalisation Manager, Irvine Abraham, said: “Partnerships, such as this one, provide an opportunity for Northern Regional College to cooperate and collaborate with colleges outside of our jurisdiction and to share best practice. Trips like this are a golden opportunity to enhance the wider student and staff experience and we are committed to fostering meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with colleges all over the world.”
Ian Forsythe said: “Opportunities like this to travel to far-flung countries are so beneficial for Northern Regional College’s students and staff alike – it’s a real eye-opener. It’s fantastic for us to be able to bring back knowledge and disseminate that among our students and staff at the College. We’ve gained a real insight into the other side of the world.”