Larne gardener heading to Budapest battle

Shea McFerran.
Shea McFerran.

A landscape gardener from Larne has been selected to represent the UK at Europe’s most prestigious skills competition next month.

Team UK - which heads to the EuroSkills Finals in Budapest from September 26 to 28 - will comprise of 22 elite competitors skilled in a broad spectrum of disciplines from engineering to construction, digital to creative.

Shea McFarren, 19, trained at CAFRE and is now looking forward to taking on his contemporaries from across Europe.

“WorldSkills UK and my employer Logan Landscape have given me this fantastic opportunity. I will give Budapest my best shot. It is an achievement to put on my CV and hopefully I can also add a gold medal. That would be great.”

Dr Neil Bentley, CEO of WorldSkills UK, which selects and trains Team UK to the highest international standard, said: “EuroSkills is hugely important to our nation. As we are preparing to leave the EU we need to be demonstrating to the rest of Europe that we are preparing our youngsters for a competitive future.

“These young people are part of a generation of new high-fliers, role models who will be inspiring others to follow in their footsteps to take up apprenticeships and technical careers.

“We are already seeing the tide turning as more young people and their parents are starting to think really seriously about vocational careers, vocational qualifications and taking up apprenticeships - which is good for them and employers.”

“These talented young people will be under intense pressure at Budapest because they are competing against the best of the rest of Europe. Some of them have been training for years alongside their jobs, forsaking holidays, attending WorldSkillsUk boot camps to be prepared so they can compete at their level best.”

Governments and industry will be watching with interest to benchmark how well Team UK performs compared to the country’s main European competitors.

At the previous EuroSkills finals, held in 2016 in Gothenburg, Sweden, Team UK finished seventh.

To secure a place in Team UK, the apprentices and learners have been through an exhaustive selection process, taking part in the prestigious WorldSkills UK National Competitions, the finals of which are held at WorldSkills UK LIVE.

European Policy makers, educators and industry partners will attend the event, along with (an expected) 80,000 spectators.