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Wirral apprentice wins national welding competition
1:00am Thursday 25th October 2012 in News
AN apprentice welder from Wirral has scooped top prize in one of the country's toughest competitions.
Ben Birch was among nine people who took part in final of The Apprentice Welders' competition after progressing through heats in the North West regional and English national finals.
The 22-year-old from Oxton works for Cammell Laird and is a student at Maritime and Engineering College North West (MECNW).
The UK Apprentice Welder competition involves more than 40 Further Education and Training Colleges across Great Britain.
A second Cammell Laird apprentice from MECNW, Jake O’Rourke, who had also made it through to the UK Final, narrowly missed out on being placed.
Ben Birch said: "I'm delighted to have won this award. I want to use it as a springboard to further my career.
"I would like to thank Cammell Laird, MECNW and all my tutors who have helped me so much."
Cammell Laird's chief executive John Syvret congratulated Ben on his 'tremendous achievement'.
He said: "This is an impressive performance from Ben who has represented the company exceptionally well in this national competition.
"His achievement is further great testament to the calibre of teaching and training he is receiving from Cammell Laird and our partners MECNW.
"Cammell Laird has worked very hard over the last few years with MECNW to implement a new rigorous programme of training for apprentices.
"There is an urgency to train the next generation of mechanical and structural engineers to fill the skills gap.
"Youngsters like Ben show the bright, energetic young talent that is now coming through the system and this is exactly what our industry needs.
"It is tremendous for us and Ben's tutors to see him perform so well and to see the standards we set being recognised at a national level."
Mersey Maritime Group chief executive Jim Teasdale, who runs MECNW, said: "Ben’s success at the UK Apprentice Welder final is evidence that MECNW can produce the best skills in Britain.
"Our aim is to teach the core skills that industry needs to meet the massive opportunities that exist in the engineering sector.
"Merseyside’s 28,000 strong maritime sector and engineering workforce is set to double over the next 10 years. Sectors such as offshore wind, nuclear and SuperPort are driving demand for skilled workers.
"MECNW is now actively seeking to work with more employers to upskill workers of any age to make use of the college's excellent teaching and facilities."