From education to employment

National finals of WorldSkills UK held at local college

Winners of regional heats in WorldSkills UK, a competition for students, competed in national finals held at Barking & Dagenham College in November.

In addition to finalists from colleges across the south east region, hundreds of other people visited the College’s Rush Green campus to watch the competitions and take part in taster sessions. Groups of local school children from Kelvedon Hatch Community Primary School, New Rush Hall School, Ortu Hassenbrook Academy and Jo Richardson Community School visited.

Those taking part in the competition included former Barking & Dagenham College students Simonas Brasas, 20 and Yeaba Shamsher Astha, 19, from Dagenham.

The duo, who did engineering BTECs at the college, and are now both at university, participated in the Industry 4.0 category of the competition. Industry 4.0 refers to what is being called the fourth industrial revolution, the digitisation of manufacturing.

The college’s engineering students learn in state-of-art facilities within the East London Institute of Technology, which are the same are those used in modern digital factories today. The labs have been purpose-built for teaching people about advanced technologies and competitors used equipment and machinery that are used in modern manufacturing. The Industry 4.0 competition was sponsored by Festo Group, a leading world-wide supplier of automation technology and a solution provider for technical education.

They were given a networking task, showing how various elements within an industry 4.0 factory work in symphony with one another.

Simonas explained: “Our teachers suggested we apply for WorldSkills, and we got into the Industry 4.0 competition. First, we had to do some online tests and then in June this year we got through to the qualifiers round at Festo headquarters and we won!

“Now, here we are at the final. It’s been an interesting experience, especially as it’s the first time I’ve taken part in a competition. It’s helped me to gain additional skills and is a fantastic thing for me to put on my CV.”

Yeaba added: “It was challenging, I learned so much including teamworking and handling stress. It was really good fun.”

One of the judges, Kashif Rabbani from advanced digital technology company Digital Catapult said: “What I’ve seen in the competitors today is that they’ve learnt real-life skills, in a pressurised environment, just like you would find when working in industry.

“The students have been really focused on the task; this competition is very relevant and can be applied to a job in a real 4.0 factory.”

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