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Keighley College
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Gold Medal

In 2023, Harry participated in the WorldSkills UK national competition final in Welding, where he emerged with the gold medal. The WorldSkills UK National Competitions celebrate the best young talent, with students and apprentices competing in disciplines ranging from engineering, digital, and manufacturing to creative, business, and health and hospitality.

The winners were announced after six months of local and regional qualifiers, culminating in two days of intense competition at the National Finals in November 2023 which were held in venues across Greater Manchester.

Fast forward six months, we caught up with Harry to see if winning the gold medal had finally sunk in. Harry said, ‘I really didn’t have any idea that I was in contention for the gold medal. Many of the other competitors specialised in different areas of welding, so it was hard to know exactly how well I was doing.’

Harry continued, ‘I can’t really describe what it felt like winning; it was just such a brilliant feeling. After all the effort and work I put in, it felt like such a momentous moment.’

Harry mentioned that he stumbled into welding by accident. He started with some weekend work at a company, simply giving it a try with a friend, and gradually became skilled at it. Eventually, he was offered a job. The more he learned, the more interested he became, and his enthusiasm grew. 

Currently, Harry is in his fifth and final year of a welding apprenticeship, spending one day a week at Keighley College and the other with his employer, Byworth Boilers.

His tutor, Adam, introduced Harry to the WorldSkills UK competition and encouraged him to participate. Harry saw it as a fantastic opportunity to showcase his skills. He described the experience as rewarding and was grateful for having taken part and learned skills that he would not have just learned at work or at college.

Harry said participating in the WorldSkills UK competition allowed him to develop his learning even further in welding. He also had the opportunity to meet new people, share knowledge, and learn from them. These experiences are invaluable and will stay with him throughout his career.

When asked about the reaction from his employer upon learning that Harry had won, Harry said, ‘Byworth Boilers were over the moon when they found out I had won gold. They posted about it all over their social media, so the celebration continued for a while.’

Recently, the Prime Minister visited Byworth Boilers. When asked about meeting the Prime Minister, Harry said, ‘It was a great experience. I had the opportunity to chat with him about our work in welding and share the story of my success. It was also a fantastic opportunity to shed light on the complexities of welding and emphasise the importance of more people learning this skill.’

I would definitely recommend anyone getting involved with the WorldSkills UK competition. My advice would be: don’t doubt yourself. I had a lot of self-doubt, thinking I wasn’t good enough, but with the excellent support around me, I gained so much confidence, and I’m thrilled that I continued and got this opportunity,’ Harry added.

Harry went on to express his gratitude, saying, ‘I would like to thank my employer, who allowed me to practice during work hours and provided me with all the materials and resources. Also, my college and tutor Adam, who encouraged me to enter in the first place and provided support throughout.’

Speaking to Harry’s tutor, Adam, about Harry winning Gold, he said, ‘It was amazing! Everyone was watching it live on Teams, phones were buzzing, and everyone was messaging back and forth. It was my first time experiencing the competition, and when Harry’s name was announced as the winner, it was fantastic.’

‘The national finals presented an excellent chance for Harry to connect with others, expand his network, and acquire not just welding expertise but also essential personal skills. These experiences have played a vital role in shaping him into a versatile individual, greatly enhancing his value in the workplace. Witnessing Harry’s confidence flourish post-competition has been truly inspiring,’ Adam added.

“I would definitely recommend encouraging your students to participate in the WorldSkills UK competitions. The competition is well-organised, starting from the regional level all the way up to nationals. I’m glad I had the chance to support a student through this experience. Whether it’s welding or any other skill where they show talent, I would highly recommend it. Who knows? The door might open for them to compete at the WorldSkills international level competitions.”

The WorldSkills UK Competition in Welding is run in partnership with Engineering Skills Competitions CiC and is supported by Air Products.

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