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An air conditioning and refrigeration student from Bath College has been named the winner of the second SkillFRIDGE regional heat.
 
Steven Monk will now wait to see if he has won a place to compete in the national finals at the Skills Show in November.
 
The top scorers from three regional heats go through to the final where they could be selected for the WorldSkills UK training squad.
 
Steven, 29, from Bristol, is a Level 2 first year apprentice studying at Bath College and working as an apprentice at Bath-based company Ambient Engineering Limited.
 
He said: “I wasn’t expecting to win at all, I’m over the moon.
 
“It was tougher than I expected. Although I’m studying air conditioning and refrigeration, I was out of my comfort zone because I normally do air conditioning (rather than refrigeration) in my day job.
 
“It’s good to challenge yourself and set yourself goals.”
 
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SkillFRIDGE is a national competition for apprentices studying air conditioning and refrigeration from Level 2 to Level 3.
 
Competitors at the regional heat, hosted by tutor Simon Robinson at Bath College, spent a day completing three tasks under the watchful eye of competition judges.
 
The aim of competition is to improve students’ knowledge and experience, and to promote career opportunities within the industry.
 
Bath College students Adam Jackson, who works for Space Engineering, and Chandler Davison, who works at Thermocold in Wiltshire, also entered the competition alongside students from Eastleigh College.
 
Chandler said: “It’s a tough challenge but we can all do it.
 
“You have to think about it and go through it slowly. It teaches you how long you should be doing tasks and improves your confidence.”
 
Bath College is one of only 15 colleges in the UK offering air conditioning and refrigeration qualifications, from Level 2 to Level 3.
 
Students enrolling on the college’s access to building services engineering Level 1 course also study refrigeration for 12 weeks, as well as electrical engineering and plumbing.
 
The course gives students an introduction to refrigeration, allowing students to progress to a Level 2 full-time course or an apprenticeship.
 
With a skills shortage in the industry, students are in high demand from companies who need engineers to design, install and maintain cooling systems.
 
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Tutor Simon Robinson said: “I would like to see more students coming into the refrigeration and air conditioning industry.
 
“We feel our industry needs to be better recognised and holding such events will help to raise awareness.
 
“I want to demonstrate the high skillset required to be a top apprentice in our industry and let the industry and employers know about the high-quality students we have here.
 
“The students I put forward have shown natural ability and a genuine interest in the refrigeration industry. Taking part in these competitions will give them a great confidence boost.”
 
SkillFRIDGE is organised by Datateam Business Media and WorldSkills, which is responsible for running the international WorldSkills Competition every two years.
 
Head judge Mark Forsyth said: “This competition is held to raise the standard of professionals in the industry. This should be a benefit for employers, who will see the level of delivery to their clients improve.
 
“What the students learn here and what the employers experience should be managed back at the college to improve their standards.
 
“So the individual comes back out of the college, enters another competition and the level increases. We actually raise the standard of the competition because we’re raising the capability of the entrants.”
 
For more information about air conditioning and refrigeration courses at Bath College click here.

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