Leicester College News

Anne Greaves from Leicester College wins Midlands heat of national SPARKS Female Skills Competition 2024


Anne Greaves, a student at Leicester College, has won the Midlands heat of the SPARKS Female Skills Competition.

Leicester College hosted the regional heats of both the SPARKS and HIP Female Skills Competition 2024, nationwide contests that look for the best up-and-coming talent amongst women studying Level 2 and 3 electrical installation, and plumbing and heating courses.

Students from colleges across the Midlands came to Leicester College’s Freemen’s Park Campus on Tuesday 5 March 2024 to compete in either HIP – for plumbing and heating students, or SPARKS – for electrical installation students – in a live practical installation.

After a close race, Anne Greaves from Leicester College was named the winner of the SPARKS competition, with Kaci Riley from Loughborough College coming in as the runner-up. Daisy Turner from Barking and Dagenham College, and Sophie Maguire from City College Norwich were named as the HIP competition runner-up and winner, respectively.

The winners received a gift voucher from e-on for merchandise. They will now go on to compete in the grand final at Stephenson College in Coalville on 18 April 2024 to determine the ultimate HIP and SPARKS champions.

Anne Greaves, who is studying on the Level 3 Electrical Installation course at Leicester College, said: “I was very surprised but thrilled to win. The quality of the competitors’ work was so high, so it was a bit surreal hearing my name being called!

“I’ve always had an interest in electrics but didn’t think I’d be where I am today. Courses like this one at Leicester College didn’t feel as accessible when I was 18, so I never thought it was an option. But I’m proud of myself for enrolling on the course and pursuing my dreams.

“I’m so grateful to Leicester College’s electrical team for putting me forward for the competition and for their support in getting me through it. I’m sure no matter the result at the final, it’ll be another brilliant day so I’m looking forward to it.”

Verity Hancock, Principal at Leicester College, said: “We were so pleased to host the Midlands heat of the national HIP and SPARKS Female Skills Competitions this year. Our own electrical, and plumbing and heating courses are very popular with all students with an increasing number of women studying.

“It’s been encouraging to see so many talented students competing and we’re delighted that our own student, Anne came out on top. Competitions like these not only boost confidence but give women more opportunities to get industry experience to help them succeed in their careers.”

The competitions are run by HIP and SPARKS Magazines, publications that support the next generation of learners and lecturers in the construction, engineering, and hairdressing and barber trades. The competitions run every year to not only seek upcoming talent along electrical and plumbing students, but also to help them network with other learners in the same trade, learn new skills and win prizes along the way.

Zoe Tanner, Managing Director at SPARKS, commented: “The calibre of skill each competitor demonstrated has been incredible! They should all be immensely proud of themselves for taking part. The positive outcomes from the competition have been remarkable. Last year’s winner and runner-up went on to enter and win their regional heats in this year’s SPARKS Learner of the Year competition. This is a clear indication that initiatives like this can act as a stepping stone, empowering women to participate more confidently in mixed-gender competitions and in the industry as a whole.”

The competition is supported by leading industry names such as Megger, Aico, Electric Center, The IET, Milwaukee, Schneider Electric, Prysmian, Snickers, Fix Radio and the National Electrotechnical Training (NET).

Glenn Scholfield, Technical Training and Support Manager at Aalberts IPS (formerly Pegler Yorkshire), was one of the judges for the HIP competition. He said: “We are delighted to see so many women that have signed up to compete this year. I think women-focused contests encourage more competitors, whereas we see fewer women signing up if they have to compete against men.

“There has been a really good standard in the finals this year. I’ve been particularly impressed with the attention to detail. As the sector become less gender-dominant, we hope to see many more of these students pursue careers in plumbing, electrics and other trade sectors.”

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