The UK’s largest skills show held at the NEC Birmingham, 17 – 19 November, included the final of the APL WorldSkills UK competition in Landscaping, organised by the Association of Professional Landscapers, designed to select Britain’s entrants to the WorldSkills Competition in Russia in 2019.
Makita, one of Britain’s leading professional power tool manufacturers, has supported this competition for a number of years and has provided a comprehensive inventory of drills, impact drivers, mitre saws and petrol disc cutters.
This year the seven finalists used Makita tools during the two and a half day landscape garden build. The test piece layout was designed by the Association of Professional Landscapers, APL, to examine the skills levels of the competitors in both hard and soft landscaping. Cobble paving had to be laid; wood trellis work cut and assembled on site; decking fixed into position; slabs cut and laid; turf and plants installed to the design brief and marked to international standards.
The professional judges awarded the Gold medal to 27 year old Jake Botting who works in the landscape industry and studies at Myerscough College. “It was a hard test, far more difficult than the semi-finals,” reported Jake. “There is never enough time and with the woodwork and slabs that needed precision cutting to fit the manhole cover in this design I was flat out all the time. It’s great to be working with Makita tools. I’m really pleased to have won the Gold medal which is great for my CV.”
The Silver medal went to Ross Conquest, 27, who runs his own landscaping business, Conquest Hard Landscaping, in Sussex with seven staff. “I entered the competition to prove to myself, and my team, that we can offer really high skills levels to our customers. It’s easy to talk about this but the proof is in-the-pudding by actually competing against the best in the country. We are fully equipped with Makita tools as they are rugged and reliable. Taking home the Silver medal is a great promotion factor for the business. I’m encouraging my staff to enter next year.”
The Bronze award went to one of the youngest entrants in the competition, 17-year old Aaron Byrne who is doing a full-time, two-year course for Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture at Reaseheath College. “I’ve been interested in plants and gardening from a young age and this interest has continued. When I complete my course I may go into a job immediately or take a higher degree course first. My goal is definitely to win a place for the Russia event. Working with the Makita tools always seems to make the job easier. I really hope this result gets me on to the UK team for Russia.”
Phil Tremayne of APL is very positive about skills levels in the UK landscape industry. “This competition shows all entrants are at a very high level this year. We decided at the semis at RHS Tatton Park this summer that all seven should go through to the final as a real test to find members of the UK team for the future. Since the APL has taken over management of the competition we have raised the skills levels considerably. The garden design by Jody Lidguard really does stretch their ability; it is very positive to see where they are in their training. This year they had to write an action plan and we judged both the delivery and the progress against that plan every day. APL will continue to raise the standards each year. We recognise the invaluable support provided by Makita and other sponsors without which we could not possibly run this competition.”
All three medal winners were presented with Makita power tool twin-pack kits of drills and impact drivers to enhance their future landscaping skills.
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