union jack icon
Team UK
Icon of CNC Milling
CNC Milling
Icon of a college
Babcock International

Alex Whitemore, a 22-year-old engineer from Plymouth, has the perfect explanation when people ask, ‘what is the CNC Milling competition?’  

“It’s programming machines with a computer, to cut intricate parts out of metal, that are accurate to one sixth of a human hair”, explains Alex.  What is more, Alex will need to perform those tasks over four days of intense competition, under strict timed conditions at WorldSkills Lyon 2024.   

Recognising the important role that competitions play in developing apprentices, it was his manager at Babcock International that first spotted Alex’s talent and put him forward for WorldSkills UK Competitions.  Alex joined the company as apprentice completing a Level 3 apprenticeship in Advanced Manufacturing.      

“I knew of two previous apprentices at Babcock International that had reached the WorldSkills UK Finals, so I thought I had nothing to lose by giving it a go.  I certainly didn’t think two years later, I’d be chosen for Team UK”, explains Alex.  

Alex cites greater precision in his work, an increase in confidence and learning new technical skills as some of the benefits of training with WorldSkills UK.  

To help Alex prepare for WorldSkills, he has travelled across Europe to particate in different training events including in Austria, Portugal and Poland.  This training has not been without its obstacles, most notably having to undergo heart surgery, but this has made Alex more determined than ever, and he is grateful for all the support that his employer Babcock International and WorldSkills UK have given him.  He says:  

“WorldSkills is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the training has meant that I have had to make some personal sacrifices like giving up my weekends and evenings to practice, but I know come the competition in September it will all be worth it.”  

In addition to the benefits to his career, Alex says being part of Team UK has meant that his family, who have always been supportive of his work, now fully understand what a CNC Machinist does.  

When asked about what excites him most for WorldSkills Lyon, Michael is full of enthusiasm. “I’m really looking forward to the entire experience,” he said. “From witnessing the exciting opening and closing ceremonies to being immersed in the Team UK community, it’s all incredibly thrilling.” 

In closing, Michael emphasised the significance of participating in WorldSkills UK. “I wholeheartedly recommend it,” he stated. “The journey has been transformative, offering life-changing experiences, valuable opportunities, and essential skills that have significantly contributed to my career growth.” 

Team UK, powered by WorldSkills UK in partnership with Pearson.

Find out how the WorldSkills UK Learning Lab can support apprentices and learners.

You might be interested in

Sign up to receive our latest updates to your email