Brit named world’s best young aircraft maintenance engineer

Haydn Jakes, aged 23 from Cambridge, took home the gold in Aircraft Maintenance at the 45th ‘Skills Olympics’, which took place in Kazan, Russia.

Haydn Jakes, aged 23 from Cambridge, celebrates winning gold at the WorldSkills 2019 finals - image courtesy of WorldSkills UK.
Haydn Jakes celebrates winning gold at the WorldSkills 2019 finals – image courtesy of WorldSkills UK.

Haydn Jakes was reportedly overcome with emotion having been crowned the best young Aircraft Maintenance engineer in the World.

He said:” This means the world to me – I can’t stop shaking. I have sacrificed such a lot, deferred my degree and it cost me the chance of being a Royal Airforce pilot – which was a lifelong dream.

“Now I will move heaven and earth to pass on my skills and experiences to others in the system. I am already giving lectures to school children – and I will certainly be doing a lot more now.”

Hayden was accepted onto an advanced apprenticeship scheme at Marshall Aerospace and Defence in 2013, which he completed in 2017.

During this time, he carried out all aspects of aircraft maintenance including base and line maintenance, major structural repairs and modifications on the C130 Hercules platform for various military and civilian operators.

He is currently studying aerospace engineering at the University of Nottingham, and is expected to graduate with an MEng with Integrated Honours in 2021.

The 45th WorldSkills Finals, which takes place every two years, is considered to be the ultimate litmus test to compare countries’ readiness to compete economically.

More than 250,000 people gathered in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan for the spectacular closing ceremony which was addressed by President Vladimir Putin.

The WorldSkills Opening and Closing Ceremonies were televised in the UK for the very first time.

Team UK in Russia for the The 45th WorldSkills Finals - image courtesy of WorldSkills UK.

Team UK in Russia for the 45th WorldSkills Finals – image courtesy of WorldSkills UK.


Team UK – 37 men and women representing the UK’s top young students and apprentices (and former apprentices) – flew home from Russia with a total of 19 medals – 2 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal, and 15 medallions of excellence (achieving worldclass standard).

The impressive results represent an amazing success for WorldSkills UK, which selects and trains the team and works to mainstream excellence in education and industry.

The winners in full

Alongside Haydn’s Gold in Aircraft Maintenance, Rebecca West, aged 22 from Lewes, won Gold in Beauty Therapy.

Car Painter Conor McKevitt, 22 from Newtonabbey, Northern Ireland, won silver and Hairdresser Phoebe McLavy, 20 from Carmarthen won bronze.

Fifteen Team UK competitors won the coveted Medallions of Excellence:

  • Electrical Installer Thomas Lewis, 21 from Maesteg,
  • Plumber Thomas Thomas, 20 from Morfa Bychan,
  • CNC Miller Elliott Dawson, 22 from Blackburn,
  • Mechatronics competitors Jack Dakin and Danny Slater, both 25 from Burnaston,
  • Florist Elizabeth Newcombe, 22 from Dunston,
  • Painter & Decorator Callum Bonner, 21 from Alloa,
  • Wall and Floor Tiler Mark Scott, 22 from Glasgow,
  • Joiner Christopher Caine, 21 from Haverfordwest,
  • Lab Technician Tonicha Roberts, 19 from Chorley,
  • Bricklayer Lewis Greenwood, 21 from York
  • Landscape Gardeners Sam Taylor, 19 from Preston and Shea McFerran aged 20 from Antrim
  • Cook Sam Everton, 21, from Haverfordwest
  • Restaurant Services expert Collette Gorvett, 20 from Swansea
  • Refrigeration & Airconditioning engineer Orlando Rawlings, 21 from Grimsby
  • Electronics Expert Thomas Andrews, 21 from Alton

Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE, CEO of WorldSkills UK said: “The members of Team UK, all under 25 years, championed the UK focus on skills development in front of a global audience, sending a strong message that the UK is a world-class place to invest, do business and create jobs.

Governments, education and industry need to continue to work with us to help make sure the UK stays at the cutting- edge of global best practice in skills development.”