BLOG: My WorldSkills Journey so far

Hi, my name is Joel Keen and I am a 3rd year engineering apprentice, focussing in Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining.

Last year I entered the WorldSkills UK CNC Milling competition, which involves being given a drawing and a block of metal. The drawing is turned into a machine program which controls the machine to make an actual part out of metal. The part is then measured and judged by the experts to determine the winner.

It has been a great journey so far. I first heard about the competition from some of my apprentice friends, who thought that this would be the kind of thing I would enjoy – and they were definitely right!

I entered in March 2019, and was then sent drawings for the passive heat which ensures you are at the right level before the final. I made my initial entry using the machines at Weston College and sent it away for judging. After a few months I received the message to say that I made the top eight in the country. I was invited to Coleg Cambria for finalist training, which was a really beneficial experience and prepared me for the WorldSkills Live Show at the NEC in Birmingham.

Being able to compete and hone my skills has been a really valuable experience for me. Not only have I developed my CNC skills, I have advanced my team working skills, ability to work under pressure, and also time management. In order to be at a level to compete in the finals this was crucial, and throughout last year I completed extra practice on the machines at Weston College, in order to give me the best chance of winning my heat.

I was absolutely thrilled to win Gold in the National Final, and I am now part of the UK Squad, which might see me compete in EuroSkills Graz 2020 and WorldSkills Shanghai 2021!

WorldSkills really is an incredible experience, the training you receive is outstanding, and meeting likeminded people is also great fun.

I would definitely recommend WorldSkills to other learners because if you work hard you have a chance to compete on the national stage. The training and support from the College will allow you to reach your potential and be at a level to compete.

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