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Young engineer in WorldSkills final

Londoner is one of just 31 Brits to reach the final of the world ‘Skills Olympics’ @barkingcollege

Following in the footsteps of our sporting Olympic stars, 22-year-old Simonas Brasas will compete at WorldSkills Lyon 2024, known as the ‘skills Olympics’.

Simonas, who did a BTEC in engineering at Barking & Dagenham College (@barkingcollege), is one of just 31 elite students to get a place at the world final. He’s one of only 3 Londoners to secure a place.

All aged under 25, Team UK will be heading for glory on the world stage in Lyon, France in September.

They will be competing in disciplines including cyber security, renewable energy, digital construction, cooking, hairdressing and painting and decorating. Simonas is in the Industry 4.0 competition. Industry 4.0 refers to what is being called the fourth industrial revolution, the digitisation of manufacturing.

Team UK is selected, mentored and trained by WorldSkills UK, in partnership with the world’s leading learning company Pearson.

Just like their sporting counterparts, Team UK has been training hard for this once in a lifetime opportunity to represent their country in their chosen career.  The UK has been taking part in the WorldSkills Competition since 1953 and the event is used by governments around the world, economists and global business leaders as a litmus test to measure preparedness to optimise future economic growth.

WorldSkills Lyon 2024 will host over 1500 young people from 65 countries, who will compete in 62 different skill disciplines.

Simonas now lives in Kingston upon Thames, where he studies at Kingston University. He’s doing a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering with space technology and will graduate in 2025.

Asked how he feels about taking part in the final, Simonas says: “I’m a bit nervous; it will be in a massive arena with lots of teams competing and I’ll be in front of so many people, so it will be challenging. But it’s going to be interesting, as well as nerve racking.”

Simonas credits the fact that he’s been able to get into the WorldSkills Industry 4.0 competition to his time doing a BTEC in engineering at Barking & Dagenham College. He says “That really set me up, because the College had recently opened a new Institute of Technology, which included labs that contained the very specialised and expensive Industry 4.0 equipment. Credit to our teachers who allow us to explore and train on this, despite at that stage it not being a component of our course. That’s how I manage to pick up on it. This sort of equipment is so expensive and not everyone has access to it, so it was a huge advantage for me and other students.”

Ben Blackledge, Chief Executive, WorldSkills UK said: “WorldSkills Lyon 2024 – think Olympic Games – where the prize is the world-class skills that UK employers are crying out for. 

“I couldn’t be prouder of Simonas and all of the exceptional young people in Team UK; they are fantastic role models.  Together with Pearson, we will use their participation at WorldSkills to boost the prestige of technical and vocational education, inspiring many more young people to take up technical and vocational training across the UK to help drive investment, jobs and economic growth.”

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 students use equipment and machinery that are used in modern manufacturing.

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