Update from WorldSkills London 2011

Posted on 5 Oct 2011 by The Manufacturer

Jane Gray reports from the world’s largest vocational skills competition with news and comment from event partners.

WorldSkills London 2011 is underway and hundreds of school children are flooding into the ExCel centre along with representatives from UK and international businesses and recruitment agencies.

The zone dedicated to engineering and manufacturing technologies is vast with areas dedicated to aircraft maintenance, mechatronics, mechanical engineering, creative modelling, CNC milling and more.

The contestants, from 51 different nations or regions are hard at work. Battling against the clock to complete their challenges to a higher quality and with better performance than their rivals. No interviews with competitors have been allowed until after today’s competition ends due o the level of concentration and dedication required to stand a chance of winning a coveted WorldSkills medal.

Sponsors and event partners are very much in evidence however and happy to talk. Edward James, manager post sales and parts for Mori Seiki told me of the pride the company has in being a part of WorldSkills. “This is the second time we have sponsored the event, the first was in Calgary,” he explained. “We have spent a small fortune going through the tendering process and being here today, but it is worth it.”

Mori Seiki is one of the largest manufacturers of machine tooling equipment in the world. Mr James says that UK order are strong for Mori Seiki and despite difficult times he is confident that manufacturing will weather the recession and its aftermath better than many industries.

The problem of attracting skilled individuals to work in manufacturing firms is however, very real to him. “It is difficult for youngsters to leave school and to see a career, or realise a talent as a machinist,” he says. There is simply no visibility in mainstream education. Attempting to tackle this issue Mori Seiki have established their own university to nurture relevant skills sets, they also offer an on demand online learning facility to keep machinists upskilling, as well as taking parts in high profile events like WorldSkills.

Of course as machine tools become more and more advanced the ability to exploit their capabilities and design for manufacturing optimisation also grows. Homing in on this trend Autodesk, the global vendor of 3D design software are also here today.

For Richard Lane, senior manager, training and certification at Autodesk, it is an essential position for the company. He explains, “I went to work in secondary school in the UK recently; they had just started a robotics course. On the day around 30 kids turned up for the induction event, but a week later 300 went to audition to be in the school performance of High school Musical. There is more we can do to build enthusiasm for applying today’s technology.”

Autodesk is sponsoring the mechanical engineering and creative modelling competitions at WorldSkills 2011. All the competitors are using their Inventor product.

But, like Mori Seiki Autodesk are not interest in just making a big bang appearance at this event. Mr Lane is closely involved in the work Autodesk have undertaken to create an official accreditation model with IET for CAD engineers around the globe.

Promoting this accreditation system the company is throwing an ‘open doors’ event on October 19 when CAD engineers can register at special delivery sites to gain free accreditation. Usually the courses cost between £75-£100. So far 7000 individuals have registered across 120 sites in Euroupe.

The calibre of the sponsors at WorldSkills speaks volumes for the quality of work expected from the competitors and this is an unprecedented opportunity for youngsters in the UK to be inspired by the abilities of the teams – not so far removed in age from themselves.

More soon on TM’s interview with Lynn Tomkins, UK Operations Director at SEMTA. The SSC has been nominated as a finalist for the WorldSkills Partner of the Year Award. The winner will be confirmed tomorrow.