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Home » News » Penwith Alumnus Receives Medallion For Excellence at International WorldSkills Event

Penwith Alumnus Receives Medallion For Excellence at International WorldSkills Event

Thomas had trained since 2020, and achieved the third highest Painting and Decorating score in the world.

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Published Monday 21 November 2022

Penwith College Alumnus Thomas Nowell received a Medallion for Excellence at the WorldSkills Competition 2022 Special Edition for Painting and Decorating, after getting the third highest score in the world. 

The competition, which was postponed from May in Shanghai due to the pandemic, saw participants from all over the world take part in competitions in what is regarded as the Olympics for skills. The single event was split into 62 skill competitions, which were held over 12 weeks in 15 countries between 07 September and 26 November.  

WorldSkills is regarded as the Olympics for skill based careers and participants train all over the world for the event.

Thomas Nowell was a part of Team GB, which consisted of 39 young people who practice a wide variety of trades including cabinet making, robotic systems integration and floristry. He represented the country in the Painting and Decorating category in South Tyrol in Italy and received a Medallion for Excellence for his outstanding work, getting the third highest score in the world behind joint silver medallists.  

This has been a long time coming for Thomas, who has been training for the International WorldSkills event since January 2020. Prior to this, he joined Penwith College’s Level 1 Painting and Decorating diploma in 2015 where his natural affinity was spotted by his lecturer. He won gold in the WorldSkills UK Regional event in 2018, where he was up against others from Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset, after painting a 100-year World War I commemoration. In 2019, as a previous UK final medallist, he qualified to compete at the NEC WorldSkills event, where he competed to be a part of the UK WorldSkills Training Squad. After successfully qualifying, Thomas would train at Angus and Dundee College in Scotland to fine tune his skills. He was already employed in the trade by this time and would undertake additional training and travel to Scotland in his own time in order to compete on the world stage. Final stages of his training were completed in Abu Dhabi, and Thomas was chosen out of the 3 candidates to represent the UK on an international level. His Medallion of Excellence is a testament to all the hard work he has put in over the years.  

Thomas has travelled all over the UK and to Abu Dhabi in order to prepare for the competition.

Steve Piff, Programme Team Leader for Construction and Automotive at Penwith College said, “We are absolutely delighted with Thomas’ result. World skills is considered the Olympics for skills-based courses, therefore, to have been awarded a medal is outstanding. Thomas was always a very precise, diligent student and this type of competition work suits his methodical style and quest for perfection. He has really made the most of all of the training opportunities open to him having travelled to numerous countries worldwide. Before this competition he had not been outside the UK! This journey has been such a development opportunity both personally and professionally for Thomas. Thanks must go to his employer: Steve Williams Painting and Decorating for releasing Thomas to train and for financially supporting him throughout this process.” 

Lucy Maggs, Director of Penwith College, added: “Thomas is from Penzance, and it is an inspiration to all students in Cornwall to see that there are opportunities for international success right here if you work hard and develop your skills. Whilst Penwith College has had medals in the local and national WorldSkills events for 3D Games Design, Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy before, this is our first ever medal on an international level. Thomas achieved third place in the points ranking, a wonderful achievement and something for other local world skills competitors to aspire to.” 

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