Left to right: Anne Milton, Orlando Rawlings and Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann.
WorldSkills has a 66-year history and is considered to be one of the world’s toughest skills competitions, providing a platform for Team UK’s group of apprentices and students to demonstrate their world class skills.
Orlando joined Daikin UK as an apprentice in 2015 and has spent most of the last three years developing his skills in the Daikin workshop – and now in the new National Solutions Centre – while also studying part time at college. He also gained valuable experience on the helpdesk and in the Spare Parts and Service departments, where he now works as a service engineer.
Orlando first took part in a regional heat of the SkillsFridge competition in spring 2017, competing against other apprentices from the North East. Finishing top in the regional qualifiers, Orlando qualified for the Worldskills UK finals hosted in November 2017 – a three day event attended by more than 73,000 spectators at the NEC in Birmingham. Based on his performance at the national finals, he was selected for the Team UK squad in December 2017.
Throughout 2018 and 2019, the Team UK squad have undergone an intensive training/coaching programme with aim of gaining the skills, knowledge and confidence required to make the final Team UK selection. This has included benchmarking, core competency and milestone assessments; boot camps focusing on productivity training, performance coaching, performance psychology and well-being; plus ‘pressure tests’ such as competitions at the HVACR show at the London Excel in June 2018, and in St Petersburg in June 2019.
Orlando has been supported throughout this process by his training manager Mark Forsyth of Coriolis International. In July 2019 Orlando and the rest of Team UK visited the House of Commons for an official ‘Parliamentary Send Off’ attended by Anne Milton MP and Gordon Marsden MP.
Dan Blanchard, manager of the workshop and now National Solutions Centre, said: “We are all extremely proud of Orlando’s achievements. It was clear from the initial weeks of working with him that he had natural talent, and this – combined with hard work – has enabled him to win at each stage of the competition, so that he is now representing the UK at WorldSkills 2019 in Russia.
“It is also a huge testament to the support given by all the team who helped to train Orlando and the other apprentices at Daikin UK, to help them fulfil their potential. Our scheme has already seen six engineers progress to full time positions within our service department, with the next waves of apprentices receiving ongoing training. Our intention is to continue to grow the apprenticeship programme, to meet the ongoing and growing department for our Service business.”
Daikin UK’s apprentice programme first began in 2013 and offers a three years of training in the workshop, spares, helpdesk and service departments combined with study on block release at Grimsby college. This ensures that apprentices gain full exposure to all the service aspects of the business, while benefiting from the theoretical knowledge to support their practical skills.
Daikin now has 13 employees either still in their apprenticeships, or who have since progressed to full time roles within the company.