Rhys lightning: SkillELECTRIC Gold recipient has winning words for would-be apprentices

Rhys Boni had worked in the electrotechnical sector on and off for some six years, “four of those in formal training and not always easy”, before he decided to enter SkillELECTRIC. “But being recognised as the best in the country at a national competition makes it all worthwhile. It doesn’t get any better,” he says.

It’s not all about winning though, Rhys adds. “Just reaching the final is a huge achievement for any entrant and is recognition of the skills and quality of work you can produce. Placing in the top three is great of course but it’s not everything.”

Challenges confront entrants every step of the way. “Mentally it is hard to get your head around the numbers who pass through the halls,” he reveals. “Competing in front of crowds is something nobody is used to, never mind 70,000 over three days.”

In the madly competitive electrical sector, any head start can be worth its weight in gold. “This industry can be tough so having something to distinguish me from the crowd will serve me well when seeking future employment,” Rhys states.

The process of applying skills under pressure can prove as critical as having the knowledge itself, Rhys believes. “Time management is a huge part of the competition as it is quite a challenge to complete everything. It’s important to have planned out what you are going to do and to be always a step ahead.”

Balancing speed and quality is crucial too. “If your bends and sets are perfect but not all completed, you will lose more marks for them being a few mm off so you need to judge that balance,” he explains.

“When it comes down to those last few hours and the countdown begins you can be under quite a bit of pressure but it is vital to keep focused.”

And in the final analysis, isn’t it who you know as much as what you know that can place your career on fast forward. “The ability to meet new people is key too, even if, like me, it doesn’t come easy.” Throughout SkillELECTRIC I met judges, organisers, fellow competitors and employers and I certainly enjoyed it and made a few friends on the way.”

And behind a national winner like Rhys is the `support team`. “My tutors at the local college were great and of course my employer gave me the time off to compete not only in the final but also the regional heats.”

Now he has won through to national success, has he any top tips for those yet to compete? “Keep calm. There’s no benefit in getting wound up and worried. I am almost never nervous (except at the Awards ceremony!) and that ability served me well throughout the competition and allowed me to think clearly and plan out the tasks logically.”