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Students wow judges at Groupwide skills competition

Students from across EKC Group got into the competitive spirit as they showed off their skills to win a place at the KFE4Skills23 competition.

On Wednesday 25 January, learners, apprentices and staff from our Broadstairs and Canterbury Colleges visited Folkestone College’s Excel building to battle it out across three trade disciplines.

With heats in Brick, Site Carpentry, and Painting and Decorating, the top three entrants in each will go on to represent EKC Group at the county-wide KFE4Skills23 competition in March – a prestigious event which will identify the top student in their fields this year.

Students had to manage advanced techniques and tight deadlines as they tried to impress the judges, who were comprised of both Group lecturers and staff from external employers such as Jenner and Brewers Decorating Centres.

One such Site Carpentry judge, Jenner Trainee Site Manager Ashley Smith, was a former Folkestone College student himself, having competed in the competition during his time as a learner.

He said: “Having done it myself, I judged the finished products based on accuracy, speed and the standard at which they operated. You can tell a lot just by the way they work and their workspace, and it was easy to see that they had really got to grips with the fundamentals and principles of Carpentry.

“They’re helping each other which is excellent and exactly what happens on a real site; it’s an example of how this competition works well to simulate a real working environment.

EKC Group staff pictured alongside Jenner's Ashley Smith

“Whether or not they win doesn’t matter, I’m just proud of them for stepping up and taking on the challenge. The skills learnt here serve them massively in their future careers, and it’s excellent to see so much talent in one room.”

“I'd also like to say well done to everyone at Folkestone College for putting on this incredible event, as well as to the other Colleges for fielding such excellent learners.”

The final awards were handed out by EKC Group’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Lucy McLeod, who took a trip around the building to see all the entries.

The final results were:

Finley Johnson won the intercollege Brick competition with his 2023 wall


1st Place: Finley Johnson (Folkestone)
2nd Place: Jay Sutton (Folkestone)
3rd place: Jayden Lamb (Canterbury)


Oliver Stickells won the Site Carpentry category with his gambrel roof

Site Carpentry

1st Place: Oliver Stickells (Folkestone)
2nd Place: George Cunningham (Canterbury)
3rd Place:  Jay Clarke (Broadstairs)


Syren Shand came top of the class with her painting and wallpaper hanging skill

Painting & Decorating

1st Place: Syren Shand (Folkestone)
2nd Place: Leon Sackett (Folkestone)
3rd Place: Marcus Williamson (Folkestone)  


Following his win, Brick learner Finley said: “I didn’t expect to win and it feels really good to have my skills recognised by the judges. I’m excited but a bit nervous about the next round, however I’m hoping for a challenge to really test myself.”

“I’ve been looking at getting into a trade for a while, and I’ve already learnt a lot since starting my apprenticeship at P.F. Builders. What’s really good about my apprenticeship is that, by working on-site, I’m not just learning how to be a professional bricklayer but also picking up skills from all the other trade disciplines.

“I really enjoyed coming here today to show what I can do, and to meet other people like me who are working hard to get into a trade career.”

To find out more about trade courses at your local EKC Group College, click here.