GE Aviation Wales Apprentices in UK Final of the World Skills Competition


Three final year apprentices from GE Aviation Wales have made it through to the UK final of the World Skills Competition.

In late summer, Matthew Riley, George Denman and Mike Jones who are all about to complete their apprenticeship at one of Wales’ largest employers, secured their place in the final against teams from companies and colleges all over the UK.

The challenge was to build a controller operated crane on top of a moving vehicle, to strict set of criteria and instructions. The team from GE Aviation Wales used the skills developed on their apprenticeship rotations from around the facility, and from college lessons, to build the crane which had to collect and deposit objects around an obstacle course. They had to draw on their experience in manufacturing, fabrication, coding, electrical engineering and Computer Aided Design (CAD) to complete the task. The project was assessed and scored by leading experts representing the further education, manufacturing and engineering sectors from around the UK.

Matthew (26 from Swansea), George (19 from Ystrad Mynach) and Mike (22 from Caerphilly) also had the opportunity to learn from previous winners and were supported with specialist advice and guidance during their training by engineers from GE’s site in Cheltenham.

The GE Aviation Wales team will now head to the World Skills Competition UK Live Final in November, where they will be challenged to recreate their work against the other finalists over the course of two days.

Speaking after their place in the Final was confirmed, the team said:

“Taking part in World Skills was a brilliant experience, from getting the team together, to learning the different skills and then developing those techniques on-site and off-site. It has really helped me bring some new ways of thinking back into GE.” (Matthew)

“It was great that GE Aviation Wales supported us taking part in World Skills and I’m really looking forward to representing our business, aviation and Wales in the UK Final in November – it’s going to be tough as we are going up against some really talented teams, but it will be something we all remember for a long time.” (George)

“To have the opportunity to represent a great employer from the local area was a huge privilege and something that I’ll always be grateful for. I really found it useful to be pushed and challenged to develop myself and how I work as a team. I’m definitely going to be bringing new experience back to the site.” (Mike)

Also commenting on the news, Nick Blakeney, Managing Director at GE Aviation Wales said: 

“I’m really proud that Matthew, George and Mike have made it to the World Skills Final – they’ve done a great job. With the focus and energy the Leadership Team, Apprenticeship Team, Quality and HR teams put on supporting, training and continuously developing our employees, this is a great moment to celebrate.

“GE Aviation Wales would not be where it is today without the hard work and dedication of our employees and I know that the team will do a fantastic job in representing the business, aviation and South Wales when they head to November later this year – everyone’s wishing them the best!”

GE Aviation Wales offers frequent and diverse training opportunities to the entire workforce. Over 4,000 hours are committed every year to the continuous professional development of more than 900 full time engineers.

Many of these employees come through GE Aviation Wales’ apprenticeship programme, which is delivered in partnership with Coleg y Cymoedd.  This partnership allows GE to equip apprentices with the academic and technical qualifications they need to thrive as employees.  The programme is spread over three years and attracts around 450 applications for just 15 positions. On average 95% of apprentices who graduate from the programme stay with the business and over one third of the current workforce at the Nantgarw site joined as apprentices.

The company’s apprenticeship programme will open for applications in December 2019.