As the SkillBuild 2018 National Finals approach, Matthew Timby tells Roofing Times about his journey from prize-winning competitor to judge and the role this competition has in attracting a new generation of roofers.
November will see hundreds of young tradespeople head to Birmingham’s NEC exhibition hall to test their knowledge and skills at what is the largest multi-trade competition in the UK for construction trainees and apprentices.
SkillBuild, which is delivered by CITB, is a series of competitions where young people compete against each other to be crowned the winner in their chosen trade. Much like the Olympics, as each level of competition progresses, competitors are tested not only on their technical abilities, but on their time management, character and commitment, helping them build their own confidence, self-esteem and life skills.
This year will again feature the Roof Slating and Tiling competition, which has been designed to reflect the role of a roof slater and tiler and the standards that are expected within the construction industry. Competitors will need to demonstrate a wide range of skills, including the interpretation of drawings, application of underlay, battens and tiles and the measuring, marking and cutting of tiles. The NFRC supports SkillBuild, lending its expertise to manage the competition.
This year’s head judge, Matthew Timby, founder of Timby Traditional Roofing, knows a thing or two about the competition having been a competitor himself. In fact, he won the gold medal in both 2009 and 2010, while a student in roof slating and tiling. This opened the door to selection in 2010 for the IFD Young Roofers World Championships in Belfast where he and team mate Martyn McAllister won gold, before he went on to receive the IFD President’s Prize in 2012.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my roofing career. SkillBuild gave me the confidence to excel at what I do,” Matthew tells the Roofing Times. And he hasn’t forgotten the platform that SkillBuild gave him. After setting up his own company, Matthew put his two apprentices forward for the competition, with one of them going through the regional heats to achieve a bronze at the national final.
“Both valued the experience and were proud to have been selected by their mentors to represent their training organisations. I find that it helped install a greater sense of pride in their work and they definitely enjoyed competing against their friends at college,” explains Matthew.
I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever known ever wanting to be a roofer after school, but we get genuine interest from thousands of young people at the national finals
Since 2012 Matthew has shadowed as a judge at the finals as well as assisting at the regional competitions. Then in 2017 he was asked by Simon Dixon, NFRC’S Training Manager and Competition Area Manager for Roofing, to get on board as an official judge. He will also act as assistant mentor for IFD’s World Championship for Young Roofers, which takes place in Riga on 13-17 November this year.
“Each year we’ve had a fantastic intake of professional young roofers at the competitions,” says Matthew. “It’s inspiring to meet talented young tradespeople all wanting to do their best. They all enjoy themselves and it’s something they’ll never forget,” he adds.
For Matthew, SkillBuild is an important part of the roofing calendar for the students involved but also because it is platform to attract potential roofers among the 80,000 visitors that pass through NEC doors.
“I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever known ever wanting to be a roofer after school, but we get genuine interest from thousands of young people at the national finals. They get to see the trade up close and hands on in the display areas and it opens their eyes to what we do. There’s a skills shortage in the roofing and skillbuild is a great window of opportunity for the industry to get the young people that we need on board.”
Andy Rowlands, director of Rowlands Roofing, will be judging for the first time this year. Andy brings with him a wealth of experience and his own fair share of accolades, having won Roof of the Year at the UK Roofing Awards 2017 and the Heritage Roofing category in 2018, as well as the IFD Award Winner 2017 .
The National Finals will be held from Thursday 15 to Saturday 17 November. SkillBuild is part of WorldSkills.