Five highly-skilled Themis at Burnley College Apprentices have proved they are among the best in the country by bringing home medals and accolades from top engineering contest World Skills UK.

Andrew Routh-Smith, Michael Grimshaw, Reece Embley, Charlie Lloyd and Tyler Atkinson returned from the prestigious, three-day competition, staged at Birmingham’s NEC with a batch of medals and certificates.

The WSUK contest had seen them create a small crane or a chiminiea which tested their accuracy, workmanship and time management skills. In preparation for the contest, which draws hundreds of entrants from across the UK, the Apprentices had received bespoke training from Programme Leader in Advanced Engineering Apprenticeships Wayne McIntosh, who has brought extensive experience and knowledge from his career in sheet metal work to the Themis role.

Michael, who works for Darwen-based engineering firm WEC, took the gold medal in the Construction Metalwork category, for his design and construction of a small crane. Michael, from Langho, is a former Ribblesdale High School student and is currently in the second year of an Advanced Welding and Fabrications Apprenticeship at Themis at Burnley College. He was formerly employed as a scaffolder and worked in Canada.

He said: “I am honoured to win a gold medal in WSUK. It has been a great experience taking part, testing my skills against the best in the UK. Many thanks to the Training and Development team at WEC, plus the lecturer and trainers at Themis at Burnley College for ensuring I was fully prepared for the contest.”

Michael’s colleague at WEC, Tyler Atkinson (18), from Blackburn, earned a silver medal for his crane design and construction and has now qualified Squad UK and will be competing for the honour of representing the UK at the World Skills International Contest which will be staged in Russia in 2019.

Tyler, a former St Bede’s High School pupil, is in the third year of his Advanced Welding and Febrication Apprenticeship, said:

“I’m really excited about having the chance to represent the UK in the international competition where I’d be facing the world’s elite metalworkers. It’s a great opportunity to show off the skills I’ve learnt at Themis and WEC.

“I’m following in the footsteps of former Themis Apprentice and WEC metal worker Thomas Woodburn, who won gold at WSUK in 2015 and was a strong contender to represent the UK in the international contest. He still holds the record for the highest score ever recorded in the competition so far – which is 93.5% - so he’s a really hard act to follow!”

Fellow WEC Apprentice Reece Embley (24), came away with a highly-commended certificate for his crane design and construction challenge. Reece, from Rishton and former Norden High School student, chose an Advanced Welding and Fabrication Apprenticeship after a career as a pub landlord.

He said: “I made the decision to change career paths because I wanted a job that would constantly challenge me and allow me to be ‘hands-on’. I get a lot of satisfaction at seeing a job well done and constantly being pushed to improve by learning new skills and operating new machinery.”