Whilst this has been a summer full of sporting events and exam results, one way to celebrate young people and one competition to focus on is WorldSkills Kazan 2019, for which the final took place on 22-27 August.
This year was the 45th Skills Olympics and was held in Kazan, Russia. A group of 37 young men and women earnt their place in Team UK in order to compete and represent their industries and country. Their industry backgrounds include: construction and building technology, creative arts and fashion, information and communication technology, manufacturing and engineering technology, social and personal services, transportation and logistics.
The members of Team UK were selected after first excelling in WorldSkills UK national competitions, such as SkillFRIDGE . Once succeeding in their respective industry competitions they then had to go on to complete a rigorous 18 month training programme, devised by WorldSkills UK International training managers and supported by industry ,employers and colleges. This training programme includes: assessment of core competences, bench marking, pressure tests and milestones assessments. These help to review performance regularly, in order to accelerate competitor’s growth.
Among the team was SkillFRIDGE 2017 bronze medallist, Orlando Rawlings. Orlando is employed by Daikin UK and has been completing his training with the Grimsby Institute of Further Education and Higher Education. To reach his place in Team UK he initially had to compete in regionals, from there the top 6 competed in the nationals and the top 4 then went into team training. Finally, only one apprentice was chosen to join team UK.
Following his success in 2017, Orlando had been training and preparing for this competition just like the other apprentices. During the competition the contestants can be expected to work for up to eight hours a day, so it is easy to see why it is necessary to participate in extensive training before competing in events like this.
Over the four days of competition Orlando took on many tasks. However, the main module of the competition required him to build a refrigeration system to a design specification provided. He commented: “We have to pipe it up, gas it up, install the electrics and have it running and making ice down to -15°C.”
In the WorldSkills final he faced tough competition as he represented the RACHP industry for the UK, competing against apprentices from more than 60 countries and regions including: the USA, Russia, France, Germany China, Japan, South Korea and Brazil who had all undergone their own training.
The closing ceremony for WorldSKills 2019 took place on 27 August. For the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning industry Australia’s Patrick Brennan won the Bronze medal, whilst Korea’s JuHwan Go and Russia’s Aleksandr Leushin came in joint first place, both winning Gold medals and Orlando achieving a Medallion of Excellence in refrigeration for his high score, hard work and dedication.
WorldSkills UK aims to expand the conversation in relation to apprenticeships and technical education, making them more desirable and seen as a prestigious career path. The need for this competition to encourage younger generations to join trade based vocations should not be underestimated at a time when the UK’s number of trade’s people is decreasing.
It has been noted that the UK is in urgent need of a ‘skills upgrade’ to meet the economic challenges that are anticipated post Brexit, and the promotion of apprenticeships is of increasing importance.
Dr Bentley-Gockmann, OBE, chief executive of WorldSkills UK, said: “We need more young people and their parents to start thinking about apprenticeships and technical and are using the brilliant young people in Team UK to be icons to attract the next generation to follow in their footsteps.”
In fact just before his election our new priminister, Boris Johnson, even said: “We have a desperate shortage in this country of people with the right skills in engineering, in electrics, in construction, in digital technology… So we need to make sure that we not only properly fund all manner of technical and vocational education – from FE colleges to apprenticeships.”
The WorldSkills final for 2021 will be hosted in Shanghai. The apprentice who could be chosen for Squad UK training, representing the RACHP industry, will be decided at the WorldskillsUK LIVE SkillFRIDGE finals on 21-23 at the NEC Birmingham in November this year. The winning competitor will then embark on a two year training course, just as Orlando did.