Over 70 students from University College Isle of Man (UCM) and Highlands College Jersey, competed in the much anticipated inter-island Skills Test 2019.

Students from the Construction Department competed against each other to demonstrate excellence in their skills in a range of trades: painting and decorating, plumbing, bricklaying, carpentry and joinery, electrical installation, and horticulture. Highlights available HERE

A new addition to the competition this year is the Engineering Department’s participation, where the Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre (AMTC) students are competing and testing their skills in milling, turning and their ability to operate a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine.

Jo Pretty, Principal of UCM explained that Skills Test is no ordinary competition, “It is a challenge that not only requires students to put their vocational skills and expertise to the test, but also their creativity and planning skills. It is a true test of their abilities and competencies.”

This year UCM raised both the profile and the stakes of the competition by welcoming competitors from the Construction Department at the Highlands College in Jersey. 

Jo added, “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to welcome competitors from Highlands College and hope that we will get many more off-island competitors next year.”

UCM has very close links with the Island’s construction and engineering industries, which is clearly demonstrated by the support the Skills Test has received from numerous local businesses.

All the prizes and materials for the Construction Skills Test are funded and donated by local construction businesses, with the  Isle of Man (IOM) Construction Federation and Haven Homes being the main sponsors.

Alan Clague, President of IOM Construction Federation commented, “The IOM Construction Federation are delighted to support the Skills Test which brings out the very best in construction apprentices. Every year the competition gets better and you can feel a real buzz around the corridors of UCM. The quality of work produced over such a short period of time is quite remarkable and it proves not only that these students have pride in their work but also that they can deliver under strict time constraints. Put simply, this event is brilliant!”

“Haven Homes are very proud to once again be sponsoring the UCM skills test and helping to invest in our islands future tradesmen to provide sustainability in the local construction industry, ” said David Lewis, Managing Director of Haven Homes.

Prizes for the Engineering Skills Test are donated by the Awareness of Careers in Engineering (ACE) Group, which is part of the STEM Committee at the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce (IOMCC).

David Hester, Chair of the ACE Committee and the Engineering & Manufacturing Committee in the IOMCC said, “The biggest issue facing engineering companies is a shortage of skilled people. Over the past 10 years the Chamber Committees have worked closely with local companies and Government departments to run an Awareness of Careers in Engineering Programme within the education system on the Isle of Man.  We are delighted to be supporting the first UCM Engineering Skills Test and look forward to seeing the Year 2 UCM Engineering students in action in the AMTC using the purpose built facility to demonstrate all what they have learnt over the past two years on the course.  We wish all participants good luck!”

Some of the items produced by the students during the competition will be auctioned and proceed will be donated to six charities: the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), Monitors for Kids, Craig’s Heart Strong Foundation, Autism Initiative, Heroes on the Water and Dan Kneen.

UCM is very proud of this initiative and of its students, Jo Pretty said, “We at UCM strive to empower and challenge our students to be the best they can be. This competition is a great example of one of the opportunities we give our students to shine and we would like to extend a special thank you to each of the local businesses, organisations and charities for supporting us to make this year’s Skills Test an even bigger and better competition,”.

Winners for Construction Skills Test:

  • Brickwork
    • First place: Corey Kirkland
    • Second place: Adam Fick
    • Third place: Jakob Glover
  • Carpentry & joinery
    • First place: Kane Stott
    • Second place: Chris Egan
    • Third place: Ryan Neale
  • Plumbing
    • First place: Paul Hays
    • Second place: James Smith
  • Electrical installation
    • First place: Ben Le Cornu (from Highlands College, Jersey)
    • Second place: Cameron Mcvey
  • Horticulture
    • First place: Veselin Petrov
    • Second place: Frankie Thomas
  • Painting & decorating
    • First place: Kiera Quayle
    • Second place: Kealan Beattie


Winners for the Engineering Skills Test:

  • CNC milling
    • First place: Joe Macaleer
    • Second place: Pledger
  • CNC turning
    • First place: Owen Lyons
    • Second place: Callum Brookes


The first, second and third winners for each of the categories in the Construction Skills Test received approximately £350, £200 and £100 in prizes and vouchers, respectively.

First place winners of the turning and milling category in the Engineering Skills Test received £100 cash prize each. Runners up each received £50.