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AN OLDHAM College Electrical apprentice powered his way to an ‘exceptional performance’ at the Sparks Magazine Learner of the Year 2021 final.

Adam Pitcher, a third year apprentice, started out as one of 62 competitors before surging to a place on the grid for the UK Grand Final (May 20).

Sparks Learner of the Year is a national competition showcasing talented electrical apprentices and giving them a chance to develop their skills, boost confidence – and win prizes.

Adam got to the Grand Final by getting through a circuit of competition rounds.

These started with an online written test, followed by a series of practical, scenario-based exercises. He then attended a Professional Discussion video call with his tutor, the Sparks team, plus the competition judge and sponsor representatives.

Bright Sparks

Alexander Dransfield, a fellow apprentice, also performed fantastically and joined Adam in Round 2, which meant Oldham College was the only institution with more than one entrant left at that stage.

Adam subsequently passed all these rounds with flying colours to join five other competitors in the grand final – and stayed grounded throughout the process.

“I didn’t expect to make it this far,” he said. “I’ve always said no to competing. I felt too young in previous years, a bit immature – but it’s my final year, so I just went for it.

“I went into the competition thinking ‘if I’m out in Round 1, then that’s that’ – but it never happened, and I ended up in the final. I didn’t even tell my boss about it because I thought I’d be knocked out early on. Once I made it to the final stage, I was determined to give it my all.”

Ideal Candidate

At the Grand Final, Adam was given a practical project brief and given five hours to complete it to the best of his ability and –despite being edged out for the title – he has done himself proud.

Dave Cunliffe, his Electrical Installation Programme Tutor, said: “Adam is an exceptional apprentice who passed all his exams first time with an excellent attendance and timekeeping record. He’s a pleasure to teach and has the ability to progress as far as his ambition will stretch. He would always turn out top-class work in practical sessions and was therefore an ideal candidate for this competition. He’s a credit to his employer and Oldham College.”

After completing his apprenticeship this summer, Adam plans to stay on with his current employer, RNM Electrical, who he says have been a “great support” during his time with them.

“We do lots of different work on apartments in Manchester – domestic, commercial and industrial jobs…everything,” he said.

“It’s a great job because my workload is changed up every day and I’ve learned a lot. I really enjoy it.”

Skills Competitions

Oldham College encourages all students to take part in competitions like Sparks Learner of the Year – not just to show what apprentices have to offer, but to nurture their talents for the workforce of the future.

It has also just submitted its biggest-ever squad to World Skills UK 2021 where 71 learners and apprentices are set to test their skills on a national and potentially global stage – across 17 different sector areas including Construction, Digital, Finance and Professional, Retail and Commercial.

The Electrical industry is currently suffering a skills shortage due to an ageing population and this year the average age of a UK electrician is 55.

If you’re an employer who can work with us to offer an aspiring electrician the chance to excel with a placement – or an individual who wants to start their apprenticeship journey – then Oldham College is here to help.