A CARRICKFERGUS school has won £3,000 in a nationwide design competition.

Students from Downshire School are set to take part in the national finals of the Creative Spaces competition after being named regional winners.

The initiative, which was developed by ConstructionSkills - the sector skills council for the construction industry, encourages 11 to 14-year-old pupils to re-design their school's built environment for the 21st century.

It aims to give pupils a taste of the excitement of working in construction and generate awareness of the range of careers on offer in the modern construction industry.

Downshire School's entry involved the re-design of the front entrance and foyer area of the school and will now go forward to the national finals to compete for a top prize of £50,000 of building work to have their designs made into reality.

The final judging will take place in London on May 27.

Cary Hindman, chair of the Northern Ireland judging panel, said: "We were very impressed both by the innovative design and by the very practical nature of the project.

"As a new creative space this design has huge potential to make a positive impact on the pupils, teachers and the whole school environment."

The construction industry in Northern Ireland needs to attract 3,000 recruits into the industry every year for the next five years into a range of roles, from bricklaying to the building professions such as surveying and town planning, according to the Construction Industry Training Board.

Catherine McGeady, senior careers officer at CITB, said: "The Creative

Spaces competition helps us to illustrate the wide variety of careers and opportunities available to students and let them see just how creative, exciting and rewarding construction can be."