WEC Group Apprentices Win Gold and Bronze at WorldSkills UK!
24 Nov 2015
A welding and engineering apprentice from Darwen, Lancashire has won Gold at the WorldSkills UK
final in Construction MetalWork.
18 year old Thomas Woodburn is a third year Engineering & Fabrication apprentice at Darwen‐based
Manufacturing Company WEC Group Ltd. He won the accolade after beating off stiff competition,
including four other WEC Group apprentices at the three day competition which was held at the
NEC, Birmingham from 19 ‐ 21 November.
He is now preparing to compete and represent the UK at the WorldSkills competition in Abu Dhabi
which takes place from 14 to 19 October, 2017, as part of “Squad UK”.
Thomas secured a place at the WorldSkills UK National final after scoring very highly in the
Construction MetalWork regional heats, managed by SEMTA, which took place earlier this year.
WEC Group Training Academy apprentices competed against around 100 entrants from around the
UK to make it to the final 13 – with WEC and East Lancashire contributing almost 50 per cent of the
24 year old Chris Taylor, who just started the fifth year of his apprenticeship at WEC Group, also
managed to snatch the Bronze Medal, scoring higher than previous gold medallists.
Kris Mercer, Training & Development Manager at WEC Group said: “We are very proud of all our
apprentices’ achievement and it’s a tribute to the investment by WEC Group in our Training
Programme and the hard work put in by the lads themselves. The competition was fierce and all other
finalists did really well, several of which had already taken part in previous years.”
“All our apprentices did fantastically, considering it is the first time WEC apprentices have entered the
competition and we have achieved both regional and national wins in less than 6 months of signing up
to the competition.”
The standards of the Construction Metalwork competition were reported to be extremely high this
year and Thomas Woodburn’s score of 93% is the highest score ever achieved in the UK for this
category. Other WEC Apprentices Chris Taylor, James Ennis, Ryan Smith, Harry Chadwick, and also
achieved exceptionally high scores and there were only a few points difference between all of them.
Gold Medallist and new recruit of Squad UK Thomas Woodburn said: “I am very proud of what I’ve
achieved and I would like to say a big thank you to Kris Mercer for getting us all to this stage. I must
admit that hearing my name announced as the winner was a shock… The standards were so high that
I didn’t expect it! The finalists from other companies were all older and a lot more experienced and on
the third day of the competition I was running out of time to complete my fabrication... but I managed
to finish it in the nip of time!
A big thank you as well to World Skills and the judges. I’m really looking forward to training with Squad
UK and representing the country in 2017 in Abu Dhabi.”
Thomas will now participate in a training and development programme which will include the
selection of Team UK ahead of WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017. The development programme will
include a series of milestones and benchmarks which Squad UK Competitors must achieve to
progress. By taking part in the WorldSkills Competition, the UK is able to share best practise in
apprenticeships, further education and skills with countries around the world, raising standards on a
Carole Stott, Chair, Find a Future, which manages the UK’s entry into the WorldSkills Competition
said: “I offer my congratulations to every young person that has earned a place in Squad UK and we
are grateful for WEC Group’s continued support of Thomas Woodburn training. Working together we
can showcase the levels of performance that can be achieved by individuals and organisations
through high quality further education, skills training and apprenticeships.”
The UK is currently seventh in the WorldSkills rankings after winning three Gold, four Silver and two
Bronze medals at WorldSkills São Paulo 2015.
Image above - World Skills UK 2015 ‐ Squad UK
Other images above:
Top right - Gold Medallist Thomas Woodburn from WEC Group, hard at work during the 3 day competition.
Top left - Bronze Medallist Chris Taylor from WEC Group.
Botton Right - World Skills UK Construction MetalWork Gold Medallist Thomas Woodburn.
For more details please contact:
WEC Group Ltd