The most talented young engineers in the UK were crowned the nation’s number 1 at the climax of The Skills Show at the NEC. Record numbers of spectators, totalling nearly 80,000, thronged the three day interactive event organised by WorldSkills UK.
Almost 500 young apprentices, exponents of 55 disciplines - as diverse as Aircraft Maintenance to 3D Game Design, Cabinet Making, Plumbing to Beauty Therapy and Cyber Security - took part in the National Finals.
Conor Denver Alexander, 24 years old, from Whitehaven, Cumbria was overwhelmed at earning a Gold medal in Welding. He was encouraged to enter the competition again by tutors at Lakes College Cumbria and his employer Hertel Altrad Limited.
“It is something I have dreamed of and wanted since I was young,” said Conor. “My dad is a pipefitter and he encouraged me. I took a shine to welding and was lucky enough to win a silver medal in 2015, so to come back and win Gold this year is amazing.”
Joshua Page, 26 years old, Bradford made the final of Mechanical Engineering CAD last year but didn’t win a medal so Gold tasted particularly sweet for the Bradford College student.
“It feels superb to have won,” he said. “I worked really hard knowing what to expect and was determined to do better than last year but to get Gold was a nice surprise.”
Minister for Skills Anne Milton MP, who attended the event with several other Cabinet colleagues said: “You have something amazing - WorldSkills UK is without doubt one of the most important organisations within my portfolio. Skills have never been higher on the Government agenda.”
Many of the winners now have the opportunity to go forward and be considered for Team UK selection and represent their country in forthcoming international finals in Budapest and Kazan in Russia.
Dr. Neil Bentley CEO of WorldSkills UK said: “This has been a wonderful showcase for UK skills. The competition was fierce and the standards very high - all the finalists have done brilliantly well just to get this far. All their hard work and dedication has been rewarded and we at WorldSkills UK salute you.”
WorldSkills UK is successfully pioneering the use of elite sporting training techniques and methodology to help young people Go Further, Faster in their chosen careers.
At the recent WorldSkills Finals in Abu Dhabi, known as the Skills Olympics, Team UK finished 10th out of 77 countries.