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SkillFRIDGE 2017: looking for talented apprentices and students

SkillFRIDGE 2017, the national refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump competition, is looking for talented apprentices or students in the air conditioning and refrigeration industry with a thirst to learn more and the desire to show industry their potential.

There are two routes into the competition. Students can put themselves forward and employers, trainers and teachers are also invited to enter any students they feel are up to the challenge.

The aim of the competition is to inspire apprentices to push their technical and professional knowledge to the limit. It’s an opportunity to use the latest products on the market and to understand best working practices and current legislation requirements. 

Toshiba is the lead brand sponsor of SkillFRIDGE, which forms part of the WorldSkills UK portfolio, a government led initiative designed to champion apprenticeships and technical skills development programmes. 

The competition is aimed at apprentices and students studying up to Level 3 RACHP. Those who fit the part will have the chance to compete in an exciting and pressurised environment to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. 

Registration is now open and will remain open until 7 April. Qualifying heats will begin during the registration period and will be held in colleges and training centres, allowing students to show off their talent in an accessible and familiar environment. The final will take place in November as part of The Skills Show. In addition, success at the national final could lead to an invitation into the WorldSkills UK international competition cycle. 

Qualifying heats will take place in Portadown in Northern Ireland on 24 March; Glasgow College on 28 March; Cardiff & Vale College on 6 April; Eastleigh College on 27 April and Grimsby College on 21 June, with more dates and locations to be announced.

Competition operating partner Karena Cooper said: “The skills competition qualifiers, are hosted in colleges all around the UK, leading to the Finals in November. We have expanded the competition reach this year, which in turn has more than quadrupled the number of opportunities for competitors to participate.

“The skill-specific tests are designed by RACHP industry experts, and we invite SkillFRIDGE sponsors to engage in various ways.

“Industry commitment and a show of support, whether it be commercial  or just branding, influences these young people when competing in a WorldSkills UK  - SkillFRIDGE competition. Companies that back the competition in this way are contributing to: challenge apprentices to work efficiently under pressure; supporting common inspection framework standards by using competition activity to deliver high quality skills set; and assessing apprentices’ functional skills against real life work scenarios.

Karena added: “The competition is a fantastic opportunity for companies to showcase the quality of their brand, providing a unique way of achieving brand awareness to apprentices of all ages and abilities.

In addition to Toshiba as lead sponsor, equipment suppliers and sponsors include A-Gas, Advanced Engineering, Dean & Wood, Refrigeration Wholesale, Vulkan Industries and Fieldpiece. ACR Refrigeration Training and Business Edge are training providers.

The event is supported by a number of Associations including FETA; The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and the Institute of Refrigeration (IOR). It also has support from three other industry leading events, the ACR News Awards, the HVR Awards and the HVAC & Refrigeration Show.

The HVAC & Refrigeration Show is the lead media partner and is joined by ACR News, Heating & Ventilating Review and Education Today as media partners.

Peter Chitson, sales manager, Vulkan Industries said: “Vulkan Industries is a proud supporter of SkillFRIDGE and it is great to see relevant skills such as cold pipe jointing included in the event. The Lokring product has been the market leader in this technology for many years and being able to highlight the increasing issues of hot works with the engineers of tomorrow was too good an opportunity to miss. We look forward to supporting their ongoing activity.”

Kelvin Kelly, training director at Business Edge, says: “The industry needs to attract new young engineers and technicians. Other industries seem to be better known to school leavers and college students as most further education providers have a department offering such training and people are more aware of the potential earnings and career progression. Refrigeration, AC and Heat Pumps tend to be seen as more “specialised”, so anything we can do to improve the image of our industry to young people by running events like this should be encouraged.

“It’s also good to have other training providers involved as we often have a slightly different experience with the learners to the colleges. I think everyone realises that for industry to grow and evolve we need skilled, professional engineers. Anything that helps to improve those skills should be endorsed by industry bodies, end users, manufacturers and consultants etc.”

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