Kingston PC-whizz aims for Britain gold


The former Barnfield College student, competing in the World Skills 2011 contest, hopes to win gold from the comfort of his computer.


By Elise Chamberlain, Michael Holder, Almaz Ohene, Katriona Ormiston and James Pozzi

A Kingston PC-wizz hopes to win Britain a gold medal ahead of the Olympics from the comfort of his own computer on Saturday.

Former Barnfield College student Matthew Mack, 20, who specialises in IT PC network support, has been competing in the World Skills 2011 contest since Wednesday.

Mr Mack is completing a series of tasks including protecting a computer against viruses and hacking threats throughout the four-day competition.

Competitors from 51 countries are showcasing their vocational skills, varying from bricklaying to hairdressing, at the ExCeL Centre in London this week.

Mr Mack’s former teacher at Barnfield College, Luton, Kevin Large, said: “He is one of the most impressive students to come through our college in many years.

“We are very proud to be the only college to have recently had two entrants into this event.”

Fifteen South Thames College students exhibited their hair and make-up skills on the catwalk of the World Skills 2011 opening ceremony. 

South Thames College students are also participating in motorcycle engineering and musical instrument building exhibitions later on in the competition.

The bi-annual event aims to celebrate vocational excellence from around the world and hopes to ignite the ambitions of future generations.

South West London colleges say they are experiencing an upsurge in the number of applicants for the vocational courses showcased at World Skills 2011.

Since the 2005 rise in tuition fees, the number of people undertaking vocational courses has increased by almost 4million according to June 2011 government statistics.

Director of Student Services at Kingston College, Ben Wroe, says subjects such as Engineering, Child Care and Media are all popular choices for prospective college students.

He said: “Our college is testament to the fact that vocational courses are booming.”

Head of South Thames College Marketing Department, Tony Pope, said: “Vocational qualification courses continue to be popular at our college.” 

Although this influx is the case for many, Kensington and Chelsea College said they had received many applications but had expected more.

“A lot of people haven’t applied for access courses this year because knowing university fees are going up next year anyway students think ‘what’s the point?’”

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