Living in central London in the famous King’s Cross area, Tommy studied level two dry lining and interior systems at West London College’s Southall College campus. He claims to not being particularly strong academically at school, “I wasn’t the best, it wasn’t my thing. I’m much more of a hands-on learner rather than sitting down in classroom. In school you something once and then you are judged on it , whereas at work or college you’re constantly doing something which enables you to become very skilled in that area.
When he left school Tommy didn’t know what he wanted to do. His father encouraged him to look at his options so he didn’t just drop out of society. “First-off I did carpentry, then I had a change of heart and switched to drylining and plastering which is influenced by carpentry.”
He hadn’t heard of WorldSkills UK Competitions until a tutor at college asked to think about entering, “I thought why not? I didn’t expect to get so far on. One of my tutors competed years ago and so it was like passing along knowledge down the generations.”
Tommy enjoyed competing even though it was tough during the Covid restrictions which meant training via webcams rather than face-to-face, but that didn’t sway him:
The great thing about competing was seeing the end product from drawings I’d made, I felt proud about doing that.
This was a particular achievement for Tommy as during the National Qualifier he didn’t have enough time to complete the project and knew he would need to improve his time management to get more efficient and complete in time. He says, “The National Finals were like the National Qualifiers but much bigger scale. I gave it a good go and am proud that I finished on time.”
Competitions stretch and challenge competitors across their technical and other skills and everyone reacts differently and show different strengths emerging. Tommy has found that he works well under pressure which included being filmed while competing. ”There’s more to competing than just taking part” he says, “Competing 100% opens your eyes to more than work. It’s a prestigious thing to have under my belt and could take me further in my career.”
Tommy has a vision for what his future may hold:
I want to become established in construction, create a reputable name for myself and succeed in my field.” Asked what advice he would give someone thinking about entering a WorldSkills UK Competition Tommy urges, “Go for it, you’ve got nothing to lose, even if you don’t get through, it’s a learning curve and you’ll learn more than you knew before you got involved.
Tommy feels that the perception of the construction industry needs changing, “There’s this stigma that you can’t do well, won’t earn enough money and it’s completely false. I wish that government, educators and parents would open their eyes to the opportunities for someone’s son or daughter wanting to get into in the industry and let them do it. You can earn good money and there are more women coming in, everyone’s equal.”