Ben Birch, the winner of the UK Apprentice Welder 2012 title, is one of a select group of students from across the country who had won the right to compete for the award at The Welding Institute in Cambridge yesterday evening (19 October). Nine competitors, three each from England, Scotland and Wales, completed some complex welding tests to demonstrate which of them could claim to be the best in the UK this year.
Ben (22), from Birkenhead, works for Cammel Laird and is a student at Maritime and Engineering College North West. He said: "I'm delighted to have won this award. It's been a real challenge to get this far and winning it is just great."
The Apprentice Welder Competition is sponsored by industrial gases and engineering company BOC, a member of The Linde Group. This is the fifth year that the company has run the competition. It involves more than 40 Further Education and Training Colleges across Great Britain. "The UK urgently needs more trained welders to complete the major infrastructure projects to be constructed in this country over the coming decade," noted Nathan Palmer, Head of Bulk and Packaged Gases at BOC. "This competition promotes excellence in welding. We work with the training colleges to encourage students to aim high. This national award shows them that there is real value in being the best they can."
Presenting Ben with his prize, Jon Prichard, CEO of the Engineering Council, said: "From the Industrial Revolution on, the UK has a global reputation as an engineering nation. Engineering has a vital role to play in delivering our future economic growth and prosperity, and in order to do this, it is essential that we invest in a new generation of highly skilled welders. Competitions like the BOC Apprentice Welder, which recognises and encourages high levels of training and skill, will help this country maintain its leading position in engineering."
Chris Eady, Associate Director - Professional Affairs at The Welding Institute, commented: "The test pieces prepared by the contestants today show an extremely high level of welding skill. There is an enormous pool of talent in our young people and we need to find ways - like the Apprentice Welder Competition - to ensure that employers, colleges and training providers develop them to deliver infrastructure projects that are vital to the UK economy."