UK Plant Operators Magazine were delighted to once again stage the leading independent competition to find the champion plant operator for 2023.

Staged in association with the CITB at the National Construction College in Bircham Newton the competition has grown quickly to now enable 60 of the UK’s top plant operators to compete.

With sponsorship and endorsement from leading machine manufacturers such as JCB, Takeuchi, Kubota, Develon and Liugong being joined by attachment providers MB Crusher and Engcon. The competition became a festival of construction with the finalist choosing 4 tasks from the 9 on offer.

The winner of each task became the champion operator for that category and in doing so, qualified for the afternoons grand final play off, where the winner and many congratulations to Gordon Durno, who went on to collect the £10,000 first prize.

With the sun shining, a record crowd of just under 1,000 attended to cheer on their favourite, visit the facilities and for the events younger visitors even consider a career in construction or plant hire.

Leading contractors such as Breheny, hirers such as Lynch were also in attendance to attract new talent and promote their respective apprenticeship programmes. As too was the British Army, who were keen to speak with industry professionals with a view to recruiting as Army reservist to the Engineer Corps.

The challenges were each given a competition name, so operators and visitors alike could understand what was required. Each task had two qualified judges one from the CITB one from a selection of the UK’s construction leading contractors and hirers. Each finalist was marked consistently to a set criterion, with each scoring sheet then verified by two final adjudicators.

The UK Plant Operator of the Year is a fun and engaging event, so much so that on the Friday before the event we were delighted to discover that Radio 2 presenter Vernon Kay had heard about finals day and not only was he promoting the event on his morning program, but UKPO Magazine editor Jeff Schofield was invited onto his show, to talk live on air about the 2023 UK Plant Operator of the Year event.

Whilst fun and engagement are both key factors, at the heart of the event is the narrative of raising awareness of the growing skills gap in the industry. Showcasing the careers, training and apprenticeships, all to inspire the next generation with secure, well-paid jobs and opportunities in the construction and plant hire sector.

UK Plant Operator of the Year will return in 2024.