Marshall Aerospace apprentices Leo Tweed and Sam Forbes have made it through to the 2023 UK finals of WorldSkills – the largest skills competition in the country.
Both Sam and Leo work within Marshall Aerospace as aircraft fitter apprentices, having joined as part of the 2020 intake.
Registration opened in February, with apprentices across the business encouraged to apply and test their skills against others from all over the UK. A total of four Marshall apprentices entered this year's competition—while this is Sam’s first year at WorldSkills, Leo is taking part for the second time.
Sam chose to compete because he felt WorldSkills would be a fun and valuable experience beyond his day-to-day work, while Leo was motivated by the prospect of representing Marshall against a range of other teams.
While the competition covers a broad variety of skills ranging all the way from floristry to welding, Leo and Sam entered the Aircraft Maintenance category.
The qualifying round took place in June at Coleg Cambria in North East Wales, lasting for five days and featuring roughly 80 contestants. Sam and Leo competed on day one, working in a decommissioned jet hangar on a range of technical tasks including wheel and brake assembly inspection (checking for signs of wear), as well as structural patch repair jobs only using hand skills, which also tested the ability to look at a drawing and get a result as precise as possible from it. The pair were judged on factors such as timekeeping, efficiency, health and safety and, of course, standard of work.
For Leo, succeeding in the qualifiers involved maintaining focus and not being intimidated by the number of other entrants: “There were four of us from Marshall up against some very large teams,” he explains. Sam adds that being in an entirely new environment was a challenge, but an exciting one: “They had a large passenger jet wing on a bed where people could get up close and work on it,” he says. “I have never had the opportunity to work on components from an aircraft of this type before, so this was an insightful experience.”
In mid-July, WorldSkills announced their full list of roughly 440 UK finalists across 51 skills. In Aircraft Maintenance, only eight competitors from the original group of 80 made it through to the UK final, highlighting the intensity of the competition and the scale of Sam’s and Leo’s achievement.
For now, both apprentices will be working hard to prep and train for the UK finals, which will be held in Wigan towards the end of the year. The next step after the UK final would be the international WorldSkills Competition, which will take place in Lyon, France, in September 2024.
Asked what he took away from the experience, Sam says: “WorldSkills is a great chance to do something unusual, to meet new people and test what you've learned in new ways. It's really valuable to find opportunities to go beyond just showing up and doing your shift.”
Leo adds: “The experience was really good fun. It was all very well organised and planned out, and it felt great to be able to represent Marshall on a national level early on in my career.”
To learn more about Marshall’s apprenticeships, visit: marshallskillsacademy.com/apprenticeships/learners