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Apprentices hope to be named best in North West in competitions

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  • News date: Feb '22
  • News author: Liam Waite
A man stands in front of plumbing tools on a rack

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A PAIR of Lakes College apprentices are hoping to be named the best in the North West in their industries.

Wigan & Leigh College will host the regional heat of the HIP and SPARKS Learner of the Year competitions today (Thursday, February 3).

First-year apprentice Simon Howlett will travel to take part in the SPARKS competition for electrical students, while Aidan McFarland is set to compete in the HIP competition for plumbing and heating students.

They must each complete a live practical installation to have a shot at reaching the national grand finals in April.

Daniel Jenkinson, who is helping Level 3 Electrotechnical apprentice Simon to prepare and will accompany him, said: “It was a bit short notice but we’ve got a couple of full days of training in and he’s done well.

“The stuff he’s learning he’d usually be learning in his second year.

“He’s been keen, arrived on time, taken stuff home to practise on and listened to everything I’ve said.”

Jonathan Harper, who took on Simon as an apprentice with J Harper Electrical in September, added: “There are always opportunities in life and Simon is doing well so there’s no reason not to support him in taking part.

“We’ve got a good relationship with the college and it shows what a good job they’re doing of bringing him on too.

“We try to do as much as we can to help the college out, and he’s a good lad Simon, so fingers crossed he’ll do well.”

Jonathan has given Simon time off to train for the competition.

“I’m 100 per cent grateful that he’s paying for me to be able to do this,” Simon said.

“It’s a steep learning curve to do it in the last few months but it’s nice to know that what I’m learning is setting me up well for the rest of my apprenticeship.”

Aidan McFarland, who studies a Level 3 apprenticeship and is employed by R Stamper Plumbing & Heating Limited, left school with no qualifications but has transformed his career prospects but now finds himself hoping to be recognised for excellence in his trade.

The 18-year-old said: “It’s hard to say what the task will be; it could be anything that’s involved with my industry.

“I’m looking forward to going but it will be a challenge.”

Rowen Stamper, who employs Aidan and is overseeing his development, added: “I’m absolutely thrilled to hear that Aidan has been recognised to compete in the apprenticeship competition.

“I think it’s great that the college participates in these competitions and provides these opportunities to learners.”