FANUC UK is sponsoring the Industrial Robotics Final of WorldSkills UK, as part of its wider commitment to supporting the development of the next generation of British and Irish robotics engineers.

The competition sees over 400 students and apprentices vie for the title of National Skills Champion across as many as 64 disciplines, with the Industrial Robotics Final set to take place from 17 – 19 November in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

Four teams, Hammer, Basher and Sparky; The Athletes; 2 Dudes 1 Robot; and The Cyborgs, will work hands-on with a real FANUC industrial robot as part of the final. Each team will be tested on their programming and operation skills, with 2019 runner-up and FANUC Engineering Technician Apprentice Romi Rai due to sit on the judging panel. She will be joined by fellow FANUC employees Paul Coombes and Rachel Kenning.

Speaking on her experience in the competition, Romi said: “I was not too familiar with robot programming when I was first told that I had a chance to participate in the WorldSkills UK event back in 2019. It was definitely nerve-wrecking but at the same I was excited to explore this new venture.

“FANUC supported me through training and mentorship to get me up to speed and ready for the competition. I learned not only a broad range of technical skills but also leadership, time management and teamwork. The competition helped me to develop both in professional and personal aspects, and I encourage all future apprentices to give it a go.”

With the last WorldSkills UK tournament taking place in 2019, as many as 3,000 students and apprentices registered to take part in the competition’s return this year. The winners will be announced as part of virtual medal ceremony that will be broadcast live from Channel 4’s ‘Packed Lunch’ studio at 4pm on Friday 26 November.

Tom Bouchier, Managing Director of FANUC UK, added: “We’re really pleased to be continuing our partnership with WorldSkills following the success of the inaugural Robot Systems Integration challenge in 2019. Supporting the development of the next generation will be key to the growth of the robotics sector in the UK and Ireland and closing the current automation skills gap.

“The pandemic has limited the number of opportunities available to young people in robotics and engineering, so we’re happy to be providing the chance for our finalists to work closely with real FANUC robots. This kind of experience will be instrumental to their personal success as well as that of the sector as a whole.”

Ben Blackledge, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at WorldSkills, concluded: “I want to offer my congratulations to all those that took part in our programme this year, especially the finalists. After a year without competitions due to the pandemic it was really encouraging to see so many people back involved this year.

“Our competitions and competition-based development programmes equip apprentices and students with the lifelong, world-class skills that will help increase UK productivity and competitiveness.

“We are really excited to be taking the show on the road this year with finals hosted by colleges, training providers and employers across the UK. We hope seeing the finals will inspire young people at those venues to keep developing their technical and employability skills and recognise what can be achieved by developing excellence through skills.”

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