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City Building employee named Britain’s top apprentice

A 21-year-old apprentice at Glasgow-based construction firm City Building is celebrating after scooping a top award last month month. 

Chris Keel, from Knightswood, was crowned Trade Apprentice of the Year at Screwfix’s 2020 UK awards, winning a prize worth £10,000, including top-of-the-rage tools, IT equipment and an education package. 

Chris, who is in the third year of his joinery apprenticeship at City Building, beat out 14,000 other applicants from all over the UK.  The top 50 applicants reached the semi-finals, then the final 10 were announced during lockdown and were invited to a virtual interview before the winner was announced. 

The win came as a total surprise for Chris, who’s girlfriend Jodie nominated him for the award back in February. 

Chris said: “Jodie spotted the competition on Instagram one night and told me to go for it. I honestly thought I’d have no chance of winning, but the competition was due to close that evening so we just went for it. 

“I didn’t tell anyone because I never expected anything to come from it. Once I got an email saying I had got into the semi-finals, I was buzzing and told some of my family and City Building’s Training Manager, Gavin. 

“Before lockdown, the plan was for all the finalists to go to London to be interviewed by a panel and to attend a ceremony but, instead, we had to make little videos where we were asked questions about our work. I took it seriously and I answered every question as best as I could, but I still didn’t think that I would have a chance of winning. 

“It hasn’t sunk in and I can’t believe that I’ve won a national award. When my trophy arrived, I was honestly over the moon. My family are all super proud of me and Gavin was buzzing too!” 

As part of his prize, Chris has won a £3,000 education package that he hopes to use towards getting a degree. 

He said: “I love my job at City Building and I never thought about ever going to university, but its something I’d be interested in looking into. I’ve heard of a construction and management degree at Glasgow Caledonian Uni that sounds really interesting. This process has taught me that when an opportunity comes your way, you should take it.” 

City Building is one of Scotland’s largest employer of apprentices, currently training more than 240 individuals across various trades. Since 2006 the firm has provided 1,102 apprenticeships in Glasgow, with 70% going on to retain full time employment at City Building. 

Dr Graham Paterson, executive director at City Building, said: “We are extremely proud of Chris and everything that he’s achieved this year. It’s fantastic to see that even during these challenging times, our workforce is still hard at work and dedicated to improving their skills. 

“I’m looking forward to watching Chris continue to develop and complete his apprenticeship with us next year. Undoubtedly, he has a bright future ahead of him as a joiner and I’m sure he will continue to excel throughout his career.” 

For further information about City Building, visit www.citybuildingglasgow.co.uk/