Record number of competitors signed up for SkillFRIDGE!

SkillFRIDGE, the national, refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump competition sponsored by Toshiba, is enjoying a record year in terms of student participation. Over 42 registrations were received ahead of the April 7 deadline, its highest number ever.

Qualifying heats are being held in colleges and training centres around the country. Students competed at Southern Regional College’s Portadown campus on 24 March; Glasgow College on 28 March; Cardiff & Vale College on 6 April and at Eastleigh College on 27 April.

The remaining heats will take place at Grimsby College on 21 June and North Kent College on 19 July. The six highest scores from the regional heats, plus last year’s winner, will be invited to the final held at the NEC as part of The Skills Show in November.

The skill-specific tests are designed by RACHP industry experts. The regional heats have two tasks that include:
(i) Fabrication, brazing, pressure test, evacuation task,
(ii) A control wiring and testing task – (refrigerant is not used at this stage)

The final incorporates RAC level 2 knowledge and practical tasks including charging and recovery of refrigerants to Fgas 2079 (cat 1) standards, plus elements of Level 3 RAC.

Competition organising partner manager Karena Cooper comments: “Since we started on this journey our mission was to raise the profile of this exciting industry and engage more students in the competition to help address the future skills crisis. It’s as much about retention as it is recruitment and the competition plays an important part in showing these students that they made the right career choice and to stick at it!”

Commenting on the stellar line-up of judges, competition project manager Mark Forsyth says: “We are very pleased to have past SkillFRIDGE and WorldSkills UK international competitors Stuart Millar, Chris Bailie, Liam Dean, Ryan Unwin and Steve Burge on the judging panel, together with industry professionals Derek Davies (EABS/IOM/BSI), Graeme Fox (BESA) who have assisted to date. There is the opportunity for more industry professionals to assist in judging – we welcome anyone interested to get in touch.”

In addition to Toshiba as lead sponsor, equipment suppliers and sponsors include A-Gas, Advanced Engineering, Dean & Wood, Refrigeration Wholesale, Vulkan Industries and Fieldpiece. ACR Refrigeration Training and Business Edge are Training Providers.

The event is supported by a number of Associations including FETA; The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and the Institute of Refrigeration (IOR). It also has support from three other industry leading events, the ACR News Awards, the HVR Awards and the HVAC & Refrigeration Show.

“We have also had the opportunity for a specialist to demonstrate the Safeflame® brazing unit (a new safer flame from water) which is the result of an EU funded project for the HVAC and education sectors,” says Mark.

There is still room for more companies to get involved, says Karena: “The competition is a fantastic opportunity for companies to showcase the quality of their brand, providing a unique way of achieving brand awareness to apprentices of all ages and abilities.”