GKN Aerospace apprentices win at WorldSkills UK, 2013 final

Published on: 19th December 2013

2 day live CNC milling competition sees gold and silver wins for GKN Aerospace pair

GKN Aerospace apprentices Steven Castle and Mike Watson have shown they can compete with the best in the UK after scooping gold and silver medals respectively at the WorldSkills UK, national competition finals, held at the NEC in Birmingham last month.

During the 3 days of the WorldSkills UK show more than 600 people took part in 61 national competitions in skills ranging from aeronautical engineering through to landscape gardening. 
In the CNC milling category Steve and Mike had already won through two qualifying rounds, beating an original field of 27 competitors to represent the south west of England at the UK final. They now had to demonstrate their CNC programming and machining skills in a two-day live competition in front of 100,000 spectators. “It was difficult to work in front of the live audience.” said Steve, “You really had to ‘zone out’ to ignore the noise.” Each competitor had to produce three different pieces, taking between four and eight hours for each.

“The final competition part had a more difficult profile.” explained Mike.  “But the practice pieces will also be used to qualify for the international competition, so we wanted to get those right.”
Steve and Mike thought they had performed well but it wasn’t until the closing ceremony on Saturday 16th November that the pair were announced as winners. “We’re really proud to have won the UK finals,” said Mike. “It makes all the effort and preparation really worthwhile.”

Having performed so well in the UK final, the pair are each now hoping to become the sole UK representative chosen to compete at the International WorldSkills Competition which takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2015.

John Pritchard, Vice-President & Managing Director, GKN Aerospace Metallics said “We are really pleased and very proud that Mike and Steven have done so well – it is a fantastic achievement to win both gold and silver. They are great representatives for GKN Aerospace and for our excellent apprenticeship scheme. We wish them the best of luck qualifying for the international competition.”

WorldSkills UK competitions are managed by the National Apprenticeship Service in partnership with organisations from industry and education.  The competitions are run annually, reward talent and commitment and aim to drive excellence in workplace skills through competition.


Steve Castle, WorldSkills gold medal winner from GKN Aerospace, Filton








 Mike Watson, WorldSkills silver medal winner from GKN Aerospace, Filton