Ben Cooke, an Apprentice Plumber training at the Grimsby Institute, who is employed by Shoreline Housing Partnership, has made it through to the final of SkillPLUMB UK, following in the footsteps of Andrew Boyd-Patton and Tom King – both Grimsby Institute learners who were previously crowned UK champions.
The SkillPLUMB competition forms part of the WorldSkills competitions and is organised by JIB/PMES in conjunction with industry partners: UK Copper Board, BPEC, SNIPEF, EAS, LA-CO, Aqualisa Showers, SkillBUILD NI, EAL. Competitors are judged on:
- Bend and joint quality
- Efficient use of materials
- Competence with tools
- Interpreting drawings and pipe details
- Fitting and installation requirements
- Marking out and cutting pipework
- Using plumb and level
- Testing pipework for soundness
- Working safely
Twenty-three year old Ben originally applied for an Apprenticeship as part of the 100 in 100 Days Apprenticeship Campaign that was organised by the Grimsby Institute, in partnership with the Grimsby Telegraph.
The campaign aimed to match 100 local employers with 100 young people, wanting to train through an Apprenticeship, in 100 days. Ben has been working for Shoreline Housing Partnership since 2011 and his success has seen him progress from a Level 2 Plumbing qualification to Level 3 course with the Grimsby Institute and Shoreline Housing Partnership.
Ben said: “Originally I entered the Matchfit competitions, organised by Bradford College, and because I did so well I then got entered into the Regional Final of SkillPLUMB. “I used to be on the install teams for domestic heating systems, which was bending pipes and soldering every day, so it quickly became second nature. It’s nice to be recognised in this way; especially when I’ve put the time and effort in. I’d like to run my own business one day.”
Ben, a former student from Havelock School, comes from a family of construction workers but decided to go into Plumbing because no one else in his family had ever been a Plumber.
Mark Gibbs is part of the team from Shoreline Housing Partnership that looks after Apprentice Engineers, Mark said: “When we joined the 100 in 100 Days Apprenticeship campaign we were offered a number of potential Apprentices to interview – Ben clearly stood out. He is valuable member of our team, he works hard and he really has a talent for pipe bending.
“It’s great having Ben as part of the team because it brings new blood into the industry and gives us the chance to refresh our skills when we are showing him how to do things. Ben making the final of the competition means a lot to Shoreline, the tenants are also going to benefit from having someone so skilled working on their houses.”
Ben’s Plumbing Tutor at the Grimsby Institute, Simon MacDougall, added: “We’ve obviously had a lot of success at SkillPLUMB, having two champions coming from the Institute in the past three years. Hopefully Ben is going to make it a hat-trick. It really is brilliant for us, because it shows us that what we are doing, we are doing very well.”
The Grand Final of SkillPLUMB will take place during the three-day SkillsShow event that will be held at Birmingham NEC in November 2014. If Ben is successful, there could be the chance for him to form part of the Great Britain Team that will go forward to the International Final of WorldSkills.