Collette joined Team UK 2019 to compete in Restaurant Service at WorldSkills Kazan 2019, winning a Medallion of Excellence. Her competition experience has helped her gain experience at the Ritz and join an international network of experts.
Collette began her WorldSkills UK journey in 2017, when she competed in the Welsh regional WorldSkills UK Competitions.
After a fantastic performance, she was invited to take part in the National Finals at the NEC, Birmingham. Despite some challenging circumstances, Collette placed 5th overall and secured her place on Squad UK.
“I was just starting my Level 3 Professional Diploma in Hospitality and Catering at Gower College Swansea when I competed at the National Finals,” explains Collette. “I had fantastic support from my lecturers who helped me succeed. I was working part-time, studying and looking after an unwell member of my family at the time – so I was delighted to have performed so well and made it to Squad.”
Collette’s hard work paid off – after several months of specialist training and assessment, she was chosen to represent the UK at EuroSkills Budapest 2018. This international skills competition brings together Europe’s best apprentices and learners and Collette was competing against 20 of her peers.
“I was awarded a Medallion of Excellence for my work at EuroSkills Budapest,” she says. “I was so happy with my performance – I’d met all the expectations put on me and felt very confidence about how I was progressing in my skill. The competition also highlighted a lot of new ways of working. It was helpful for me to learn from other countries and get to know other competitors.”
The Ritz experience
Collette began competing during her Level 3 diploma and her WorldSkills UK training helped her enhance her knowledge, giving her a competitive edge. This helped her land a coveted position at the Ritz in London, where she spent six months learning from the best in her industry.
“Competing helped me hone my food and drink knowledge,” she says. “I joined the team at the Ritz above entry level because of this experience. During my six months there I learnt so much and it was a fantastic experience that helped me decide where I want to take my future career.”
To Russia with love
Collette won a coveted Medallion of Excellence WorldSkills Kazan 2019, showing that she is once again performing at world-class standard. Over 60 countries came together to compete in a range of skills, each hoping to be crowned world champion in their chosen discipline.
Her training covered four key areas of Restaurant Service: bar services, fine dining, banqueting and casual dining. She learnt from the best, with former Team UK competitor Elizabeth Forkuoh helping her hone her skills.
“Elizabeth came 5th in Restaurant Service at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 and is a fantastic teacher,” explains Collette. “It’s great to learn from her competition experience and train with her employer, the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland. Working with this prestigious restaurant helped me learn the skills I needed to do well at WorldSkills Kazan.”
As part of her training, Collette travelled the world learning from other WorldSkills nations. She placed 2nd out of 15 countries at a recent competition in China, meeting her fellow competitors and getting to know how they approach their tasks. She has also trained at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Italy, giving her the chance to develop her skills even further.
“I’m excited to see what life after WorldSkills Kazan brings,” she says. “My CV has really benefitted from the experience and I’ve noticed that I’m more likely to be offered a job because of the work I’ve done with WorldSkills UK. I’ve really grown in confidence and I can’t wait to help the next generation of students succeed in the industry.”
The competition also highlighted a lot of new ways of working. It was helpful for me to learn from other countries and get to know other competitors.