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Soldiers take on the best of the British apprenticeship talent.

Three British Army soldiers have today been competing against the best of British apprenticeship talent at the WorldSkills UK Live at the NEC near Birmingham.

The three-day event includes the national finals of WorldSkills UK where over 500 of the UK’s top apprentices compete against each other by taking on practical tasks in specialist chosen fields.

The Royal Engineers identified 14 soldiers from a range of trades to enter the competition and three made it through a rigorous selection process.

Sapper Cameron Hood and Lance Corporal Matthew Howlett from 39 Engineer Regiment are competing in the welding competition while Sapper Kevin Brown from 21 Engineer Regiment is competing in the electrical installation category.

All three soldiers won their places in Birmingham after excelling in the National Qualifiers which took place in the summer.

WorldSkills UK Live is the UK’s largest skills, apprenticeship and careers event with thousands of young people attending. 70 different skills are showcased from the digital, technology, engineering, construction and hospitality industries.

As well as providing competitors, the Army has a dedicated area at the NEC made up of nine zones and a presentation area showcasing a wide range of the latest Army kit and equipment, including virtual reality technology where young people can experience jumping out of a plane or driving a Challenger 2 tank. 

Visitors can also test their speed and agility on the Army Batak climbing wall and take on the Army chefs' pancake challenge.  Army physical training instructors are on site providing fitness and nutritional advice. The Royal Logistic Corps Explosive Ordinance Disposal have brought their Dragon Runner, a military robot built for urban combat. Soldiers are also delivering talks on mental resilience on the main stage in the arena. 

Over a hundred soldiers are on hand to answer questions about the breadth of roles available in the Army as a Regular or Reservist.

Sapper Cameron Hood from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire said:

 “The Army has helped me to experience new things and to travel to places I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to. I have been in the Army for three years and I have already travelled to Belgium and France on Battlefield Tours.  

 “Having gained my Level 2 in Welding/Fabricating I am excited to challenge myself by taking part in the competition. 

“We want students to come and interact with our displays at WorldSkills UK Live to find out how they can challenge themselves with an exciting career in the British Army.”

Sapper Matthew Howlett from Immingham in Humberside has been in the Army for three years and already been on two operational tours in Canada and Estonia. He said: 

“I’m looking forward to taking part in the competition at WorldSkills UK LIVE next week. I wanted a job where I could help people and the Army seemed like a hands-on way to do it. Having gained BTECs in Engineering, IT and Art, Level 2 in Welding/Fabricating I’m keen to talk to visitors about the qualifications available.”

Sapper Kevin Brown from Wakefield in West Yorkshire has been in the Army for four years and has already completed a 6-month deployment to South Sudan where he worked for the United Nations in constructing a Role 2 hospital. He said: 

I’m looking forward to taking part in the competition and representing the British Army. Sapper Kevin Brown

"I’m a combat engineer by trade with electrical qualifications. I have received extensive training on Electrical Installation and military use of electrics. I have also completed my Electricians course and received City and Guilds recognised qualifications and I’m keen to progress in the competition. 

 The winners at World Skills UK will be announced on Saturday evening (23 November) and will go through to the World Skills Finals, known as the ‘Olympics for Vocational Skills’, to be held in Shanghai in August 2021.