When William Falconer left school two years ago he had no idea what he was going to do next.
William was 16 years-old when he finished his G.C.S.Es at Lisneal College and after some consideration he applied to study Electrical Installation at the North West Regional College (N.W.R.C.) Greystone Centre in Limavady.
Now in his third year at N.W.R.C., William, who is from Claudy, is flying high at the top of his trade. Earlier this month, he completed a year’s worth of hard work and training when he was crowned the SkillELECTRIC champion at the NEC in Birmingham.
To describe 18 year-old William’s feat as outstanding would not be doing it justice. The former Lisneal College student has only two year’s experience with electronic installations and the fact that the runner-up was 31 years-old goes to show just how naturally gifted an electrician William is.
“If someone said to me that two years after leaving Lisneal College I would be seeing off competition from Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England to be come SkillELECTRIC champion I would have said that they were mad in the head.
“I think it’s important that young people realise that A-levels and university is not for everyone. I always wanted to do something practical so a few years ago I thought I’d give Electrical Installation a go and here I am.”
William, a former pupil of Comber Claudy Primary School, was coached by his lecturer at N.W.R.C., Keith Wade.
Keith, who is from Foyle Springs in Derry is a well experienced electrician and said that William’s natural gift for all things electrical became apparent within the first few weeks of his course two years ago.
“William is definitely naturally gifted. Don’t get me wrong, he has worked so hard since January for this but it was within the first few weeks of his Electrical Installation course that I knew he had something special.”
Earlier this year William entered an inter-campus competition within the N.W.R.C. He faced off against other students in the Greystone Centre in Limavady as well as the college’s Derry campus in Springtown.
William won the competition and was then put forward to compete against the best from all over the North of Ireland.
Again, William won and as a result he was put forward to represent the North in the SkillELECTRIC competition in Birmingham which he won a gold medal at earlier this month.
The Greystone Centre in Limavady is no stranger to success. Last year, another one of Keith’s students, Adrian Cannon, was also crowned SkillELECTRIC champion.
“It’s great for the college to have two champions. Adrian Canning won it last year and now this year it was William’s turn.
“Adrian has now been shortlisted to represent the United Kingdom at the World Skills Competitions in Leipzig in 2013. William’s win also means that he’ll be shortlisted to take part in the same competition in Brazil in 2015.”
William finished off by saying he hoped that his story might inspire other young people to think about taking up a trade.
“I know the construction industry has taken a bit of battering in Northern Ireland but there’s still work here. I work for C&E Electrical and the work will come back to Northern Ireland - we just have to make sure that the young people with the skills to do the work are here when it does.”