A 38-year-old from Caerau has won a gold medal in the senior wall and floor tiling final of a national skills competition.
Backed by the Welsh Government through the European Social Fund, Skills Competition Wales is a series of events held in colleges across the country, designed to celebrate vocational skills and create highly skilled, award winning employees for the Welsh workforce.
James Ackland, who is studying a level 2 NVQ Diploma in Wall and Floor Tiling, competed against eight other students from across Wales. The competitors were tasked with replicating a hand drawn pattern using a number of specific coloured tiles within a six and a half hour time period, with no wastage.
James, from Cardiff and Vale College, said he couldn’t believe it when the judges called his name as the winner.
“This is the first time I’ve ever taken part a competition and it was great to be recognised for all my hard work – I’m over the moon.
“As an older student, it’s reassuring to know I can still compete against the youngsters and win a gold medal as I’ve only recently got back into education.
“I’m currently a stay at home dad looking after my children but I’m looking to start my own business in the near future. Being able to put ‘award winning tiler’ on my van is a great accolade and will hopefully drum up some business.”
More than 35 competitions are taking place this year, across a wide range of different vocations from plumbing and beauty therapy to aeronautical engineering and accountancy.
Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James said: “At the Skills Show last year, the Welsh team topped the leader board of UK regions winning a total of 45 medals, which demonstrates that we’re producing some of the most highly skilled young people across the nation.
“In a year when Wales is celebrating legends of the past, competitions like these showcase the talent across the country and provide a platform for emerging Welsh legends of the future.
“Along with James’s hard work and determination the support from his family is an important factor in his success, and I would like to extend a special thank you to all the local businesses, schools and colleges across Wales who support these talented individuals.
“I would like to congratulate James on his fantastic achievement and wish him the best of luck in the next stage of the competition and their future career.”