DMG Mori provides the venue and machines for the National Finals of the WorldSkills UK CNC Milling competition

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​With the pandemic, WorldSkills UK has had to be creative in staging the UK National Finals for over 60 different competitions involving more than 400 young students.

Competition categories include automation, bricklaying, forensic science as well as CNC milling with the aim of finding the best apprentices in each of the over 60 disciplines.

As part of its continued support for WorldSkills UK, which stretches back to 2010, DMG Mori hosted the CNC Milling UK National Finals at its Coventry headquarters in November, one of 21 venues chosen to host the competitions which would normally have taken place at the NEC in Birmingham.

As a member of WorldSkills - a movement of over 80 countries - WorldSkills UK gains global insights to help raise standards across the UK. Through sharing international best practice, WorldSkills UK helps deliver high-quality training and assessment and boosts the skills of educators and students.

Additionally, it provides careers advice and aims to inspire young people in their chosen career path. Initiatives include its Volunteer Leader programme, where volunteers, who are generally previous competitors, help young people explore different career opportunities, and Spotlight Talks, where industry stars explain what it is like to work in their industry and the routes available into their industry.

Deputy CEO of WorldSkills UK, Ben Blackledge said: “These young people are a real inspiration. To have excelled after such a difficult year is testament to their dedication and determination. Skills are the lifeblood of every economy, creating high quality jobs, rewarding careers. WorldSkills UK competitions are proof that there is amazing talent throughout the UK.”

For the CNC Milling National Finals, DMG Mori supplied two of its M1 machining centres as well as training before the event to familiarise the contestants with the machine and the Siemens control.

Also supporting the event were Jemtech, Mitutoyo, Quickgrind, Gewefa, Mastercam and GKN, supplying coolant, tools and fixtures, CAM software and metrology equipment.

Mike Watson, from GKN Aerospace who is the national and international training manager for WorldSkills UK, explained the process: “Before the National Finals there are a series of regional heats and online tests. At the National Finals we select those that are good enough to get into the UK Squad and, from there, go on to compete in the European and International events, such as WorldSkills Shanghai 2022. For those selected, there is extensive training in CNC milling as well as in soft skills such as sports psychology.”

The competition standards are very high, with tolerances of ±10 microns demanded together with a surface finish free from scratch and vibration marks and properly chamfered. To complete the task, competitors need to programme the part from the supplied drawing, set all the tool lengths and offsets, set the vice, cut the part and gauge it on the machine, all within a limited time.

One of the competitors, Nathan Moore is studying at Coleg Cambria, which has just undergone a £8.5m investment, which includes a new state of the art Engineering Technology Centre and is employed by the Ardagh Group, which employs 16,000 people across 12 countries and has manufacturing facilities in Deeside and Wrexham.

He said: “My tutor at the college put me forward for the competition and I am getting full support from my employer. The competition has taken a lot of commitment and hours of work, but I can see the benefits it will bring to my career in the future.” Nathan went on to be highly commended in the competition.

"One of his colleagues at the Ardagh Group, Samuel Lewis, achieved a silver award in the UK CNC Milling event, with gold going to Sion Murray who is employed by FSG Tool and Die and is studying at University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Steve Finn managing director of DMG Mori UK said: “All the members of the UK Squad are an inspiration to other young engineers, showing what can be achieved with hard work and dedication. The UK is famous for high technology products, and we need the next generation of engineers to meet the growing demand, and to develop innovative and skilful manufacturing methods.”