The quality of the apprentices at KMF (Precision Sheet Metal) has once again been recognised with two of their rising stars going through the selection process for the Worldskills Leipzig 2013.
The process was intense and with only one place available on the team for sheet metal engineers the competition was tight, in particular between the two KMF boys.
Having completed a series of stringent skill tests, that included developing and fabricating a patio heater, the independent judges selected KMF's Matt Page to be the UK's representative, with his colleague Jake Repsys also travelling to Leipzig as first reserve.
The achievement of Matt and Jake is more impressive given the fact that this is the first time in over 20 years that the UK has been represented in sheet metal at Worldskills, and that the usual 18-month build-up to the skills test was reduced to six months.
"Sheet metal at Worldskills was abandoned many years ago, but it made a reappearance with entirely different criteria, where competitors need much more all-round skills, rather than just craft technique," says Worldskills Mentor, Dave Vaughan.
"The new contest includes Cad, CNC laser, CNC press brake as well as the traditional manual skills of developing a fabrication. Not many companies train their apprentices with all of these skills, which are vital to success at Worldskills level."
The competition between Matt and Jake was extremely close and quite literally went to the 11th hour. After they had completed the four days selection test, the pair were separated by half a point, and the judging panel had to take extra time to review all of the work they had done, with Matt making the final decision at 11 pm the evening before the team was announced.
The intense training that Matt and Jake undertook for Worldskills has taken them out of their comfort zone and taking them to a position of excellence. The pressure during training and competition is quite intense and demands mental strength as well as technical skills.
To support the competitors, Worldskills UK provides personal mentors who help with the psychology of the competition as well as the physical preparation.
"The training over the past six months has been very intense; we have travelled to various venues including Amada (Machine Manufacturers) and Lincoln Electric (Welding Plant Suppliers). We have also gone to Dublin, Nottingham, Birmingham and Coventry to receive training and get familiar with Skills Shows in preparation for Leipzig."
"The training that we have received at KMF has been very beneficial, as we have a workshop dedicated to training with all of the facilities that we need on our doorstep. KMF has also given us all the time we needed for us to train and practice."
"The help and support we have had from Dave Vaughan is a massive help in getting us prepared," said Matt Page.
KMF (Precision Sheet Metal) has made a considerable investment in training and developing its apprentices, including a training centre and workshop.
In addition, KMF works in close collaboration with local primary and secondary schools to develop an interest in manufacturing throughout the curriculum, with its Young Engineer Awards one highlight of this.
"We are extremely proud of the hard work that Matt and Jake have put into this achievement. To have two of our apprentices get this level of recognition is a testament to the hard work put in over the years and confirms that the investment that we make in apprentice training is entirely justified," said Gareth Higgins, Managing Director, KMF (Precision Sheet Metal).
A video of WorldSkills 2013 Team UK team members during their four-day selection tests can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQoIB3ZNuKY&list=PL0D2FA94C3ABC77F5&index=5