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Lancaster man among nation’s top young apprentices

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A Lancaster man is among 22 young apprentices and students who have headed home from the EuroSkills Finals in Budapest covered in gold and glory.

The women and men, who competed against their peers from across the continent, won one gold, three bronze and seven medallions of excellence (which is the highly coveted mark of elite international standard).

Among them was Matthew Barton 21, from Lancaster who trained at Kendal College and is employed by his father’s business WE Barton. He picked up a Medallion of Excellence for plumbing and heating.

“I am absolutely chuffed,” said Matthew. “My dad and training managers have been a great support to get me here. I love my career and this can open the doors to many more opportunities for me and the company.”

The results, which placed the UK in ninth place of 28 countries, bolstered organisers WorldSkills UK – whose mission is to accelerate careers and achieve excellence and optimum levels of skills performance.

Dr Neil Bentley, CEO of WorldSkills UK, said:“This is a fantastic result for Team UK and the country as a whole. We were gunning for a top 10 position and we got it!”

“These brilliant young people – training and preparing them to be among the very best across Europe -are the UK’s new generation of high flyers.

“Budapest was a litmus test to see how the UK might fare when we leave the European Union next year. We had an amazing result and the team worked incredibly hard, but we can’t be complacent. Other countries across Europe are investing heavily in skills development, and we need to ensure we don’t fall behind.

“Governments, employers and the education sector – must embrace this success and use the energy and momentum generated here to inspire to help propel economic growth and productivity.”

Team members have made huge sacrifices in their lives training for years to reach the required standard – working hundreds of extra hours in their spare time forgoing holidays and nights out in the process,

More than 100,000 spectators attended the three-day event in the Hungarian capital.