Two Drylining apprentices from Errigal are setting out on the Road to Shanghai following their selection to Squad UK for the international WorldSkills Competition.

Brendan Duddy, age 20 from Derry and Kalem Kerrigan, also 20 from Enniskillen were invited to join the prestigious WorldSkills UK Talent Development Programme after excelling in its national skills competitions, winning Gold and Silver respectively at the finals last month at WorldSkills UK LIVE at the NEC in Birmingham.

The WorldSkills Competitiontakes place every two years and is known as the ‘Skills Olympics’. The competition will feature over 1,000 of the world’s most talented apprentices and students competing in over 50 different skills as they battle it out to be named the World Champion in their chosen trade.

Ben Blackledge, Deputy Chief Executive, WorldSkills UK congratulations Brendan and Kalem saying: “This is a life-changing moment for them. Brendan and Kalem have already excelled in the WorldSkills UK regional and national competitions and now they are facing an even tougher test as they look to to represent the UK on the world stage. They have already dedicated hundreds of hours improving their skills to get to this level.”

Brendan and Kalem will undertake an 18-month training programme with WorldSkills UK, supported by Errigal and will face the ultimate selection test in Spring 2021 when the team that will compete at WorldSkills Shanghai will be named.

Errigal Company Director Cormac McCloskey said: “Errigal is the first ever training provider and drywall company to have two apprentices go forward for the UK squad in plastering and drywall systems. We will support, encourage and provide all the training necessary to ensure our apprentices have the confidence, knowledge and skills required to represent our industry on a global platform. We are extremely proud of Brendan and Kalem and we have no doubt they have very bright futures ahead”.

“This is a tribute to our whole training academy and just recognition for all the hard work we have put into training young people over the last few years”, added Errigal Company Director Damien Treanor. “We are committed to training and providing secure futures for young people in construction right across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Employers apprenticeships are without a doubt the way forward and our governments and industry leaders need to work with employers who are committed to training in the industry.”

Commenting on his Gold medal Brendan said: “This is a dream come true for me. I started my journey with Errigal two years ago. I had no experience, I had no knowledge of the construction industry, I was just out of school and I wanted to learn a trade. From day one I was treated like part of the team.  I have worked on some of the most exclusive buildings across Ireland and the UK. To go forward to Worldskills Shanghai is beyond anything I had ever imagined. I know Errigal will support me in every way possible and I count myself so lucky to have been taught by the best in the industry, and whatever happens in Shanghai, I know my future is secure with Errigal, and I am so grateful for that.”

Silver medalist Kalem Kerrigan said:“I am still speechless…. I can’t believe this is all happening. To be honest I never really thought about moving that far outside Fermanagh, but since I joined the Errigal Apprenticeship my entire outlook on life has changed. Errigal has given me the confidence I needed to compete in the Worldskills competition. Now I have been selected for the Worldskills Shanghai squad. This just doesn’t happen to people like me. I am overwhelmed at the support the company have given me and the opportunities available in Errigal. I am so excited for what the next 18 months will bring.”