Autopanel Cardiff and Vale College

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5 August 2011

Coleg Glan Hafren students take Gold and Silver at UK AutoPanel Final

5th August 2011

Students representing Coleg Glan Hafren’s Automotive Academy have taken home both gold and silver medals in the AutoPanel category at the SkillAuto final in Glasgow. 25 year old Marcello Apollonio from Penarth won gold and 22 year old Chris Offer from Cilfynydd won silver in the event which was held at the end of July. Another Coleg Glan Hafren student, Mark Giles, also made it to the final six out of 1,100 entrants across the UK.

The College, which this month merged with Barry College to become Cardiff and Vale College, played host to the Welsh regional AutoPanel final in April. The six highest-scoring competitors from across all regional heats (from Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales) were then chosen to compete in the final to be crowned UK Champion. Three out of the six UK finalists were Coleg Glan Hafren students.

Automotive Lecturer Richard Hutchins said “This is a fantastic result for the College with a gold medal win for Marcello and a silver medal for Chris, and although Mark did not come away with a medal in the final, he was one of the six finalists from the UK out of over a thousand entrants which is a fantastic achievement. Both Nik Ions [Automotive Lecturer] and myself are so very proud of the achievements of all the boys and the professional manner that they all had throughout the competition while they were all under a lot of pressure.”

The final, which saw competitors awarded the highest marks ever in an AutoPanel  final,  took place in GTG Training in Glasgow over two days. The competition consisted of six tasks lasting around one and a half hours each. Work was judged by a panel of industry experts who were looking for technical competency, good time management, the ability to work well under pressure and good communication skills.

Gold medallist Marcello and silver medallist Chris have both just completed the Level 3 Vehicle Body Repair course and finalist Mark Giles has just finished the Level 2 Vehicle Body Repair course. Both courses are studied alongside jobs in the motor industry. Marcello works at Fix Auto in Cardiff as a Panel Beater and Chris Offer is employed by Nationwide Crash Repair Centre while Mark Giles works at Cross St Motors in Barry.

Marcello is from Penarth and has studied Vehicle Body Repair for three years at the College, qualifying as a Panel Beater this summer. He commented “I thoroughly enjoyed the AutoPanel competition; I’d love to do it again. It was a great experience as it gave me a lot of confidence just being able to go and do a job completely on my own. I think it’ll really help in my career progression too.”

Marcello’s current employers, Fix Auto Cardiff, are delighted with his achievements. Managing Director Steve Peart said “When young people enter the autobody repair industry they are often surprised and daunted by the constantly evolving methods and technical requirements needed to produce quality repairs.  Marcello has embraced this and has shown a natural aptitude.  The gold award is testimony to his ability to learn, coupled with his natural desire to be the best at what he sets out to achieve. We are all extremely proud to have him as part of the team at Fix Auto Cardiff and we look forward to helping him achieve his personal goals and reach his full potential.  Well done Marcello!”

Another Coleg Glan Hafren student, Daniel Coles, made it to the UK final six in the AutoPaint competition which took place at DuPont in Stevenage on the 13th and 14th July. 21 year old Daniel from Talbot Green is studying the Level 2 Vehicle Refinishing course.

SkillAuto which is run by The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), is the automotive industry’s skills competition and is a partner company of UK Skills (part of WorldSkills UK). Exceptional qualifying candidates will be invited to take part in the WorldSkills selection squad, for an opportunity to represent the UK at one of the WorldSkills international events.

Project Manager for the SkillAuto competition from the IMI, Kelly Shipp, said “We have seen a truly exceptional standard of competitors this year in both AutoPanel and AutoPaint and at the IMI we are delighted to see the industry backing their students and getting involved in these prestigious competitions.

“We would like to pass our congratulations onto Marcello, Chris, Mark and Daniel; they were a real pleasure to work with and we wish them all the best in their future careers. Their success is also credit to their wonderfully enthusiastic lecturers, Richard Hutchins and Nik Ions and the support that they have offered their students was tremendous. Paul Lewis, who also supports the automotive department has also been an invaluable help to organising the Wales National Final and supporting the students and lecturers through to victory.

“Coleg Glan Hafren has been a shining example of the success that can be realised through SkillAuto and Worldskills competitions, and we’re confident that this will continue with Cardiff and Vale College.”

The WorldSkills competition is a global event which is held every two years. The 2011 round will be the world's largest international skills competition and will take place at ExCeL in London from 5th - 8th October. Young people from 40 different industries in 42 nations come together to represent their countries in an intensive four-day skills competition.

The newly formed Cardiff and Vale College offers over 30 Automotive courses to over 600 students in total on a part time, full time, day release and block release basis. As a Ford Apprenticeship Centre, Cardiff and Vale College’s Automotive Academy has almost 60 apprentices on the three year programme from all over Wales. The apprentices are referred to Cardiff Automotive Academy by Ford, spending two week blocks at the Academy on four occasions each year.

Cardiff’s Automotive Academy is also an Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) approved centre and has, to date, carried out ATA assessments for 300 Automotive Industry employees across Light Vehicle Mechanical and Vehicle Body/Refinishing, MET & Estimating.