While Tom Williamson may have missed out on a spot in the UK Team for WorldSkills Shanghai 2022, his skills competition journey and perseverance through the Covid-19 pandemic is inspiring.
Tom’s skills competition journey began in 2015, where aged 16 he won silver in Electrical Installation at Skills Competition Wales, hosted at Coleg Cambria.
The same year, Tom was encouraged by his tutor to register for the WorldSkills UK Regional Welsh Heat, where he achieved Bronze and was then invited to compete in the UK Finals. Despite being unsuccessful in qualifying for the UK squad in his first year of competitions, Tom was keen to try again the next year, where again he sailed through the first two competitions and was invited to compete in the UK final at the Birmingham NEC. In Birmingham, Tom scored high enough to earn a place in the UK final the year after, which if successful there would earn him a place in Team UK. On the third visit to the Birmingham NEC UK final, Tom competed for a place in Squad UK and was successful in earning one of four spots which formed the initial squad who would undergo further training in preparation for final selection on who would represent the UK at WorldSkills Shanghai 2022.
Throughout his skills competition journey, Tom was employed by Lloyd Morris Electrical LTD as an apprentice and was fortunate that his employer fully supported his competition efforts.
Tom added: “ISEiW played a massive part in supporting me through this journey from the regional heat onwards. As my skills and confidence developed, my hunger grew to be the best, determined to be that competitor on the plane to Shanghai. Then COVID hit the country, lifestyles changed, and I was put on furlough by my employer. Roger, my sector champion in the ISEiW team, was there for me, at the end of the phone and planning how I could train at home to develop my skills. I set up a small workshop at home and with the support of ISEiW I was practicing as much as I could.”
Upon returning to work post-pandemic and having completed a number of major projects successfully for the company, Tom was promoted to team leader.
Tom explains: “My employer recognised that I was on a significant journey and discussed how he could support me through this training period. Whenever my sector Champion spoke about my next phase of training my employer was always happy to release me for that period of time. Training and support from ISEiW was great and made a significant difference to my development as a competitor.”
Tom also attended some of the events organised by ISEiW for all the Welsh competitors. They would attend a boot camp and learn new strategies in dealing with the challenges they would face on their journey which was beneficial for all of the competitors.
Unfortunately, Tom was not selected for the final WSUK Team, however, his journey will now continue in a different direction – as his career has been further fast tracked and Tom is now responsible for helping manage all the training for apprentices. Moving forward Tom is working with ISEiW by delivering as part of the Construction & Engineering workshops with electrical themed workshop, to help inspire the next generation of learners within the Have a Go programme.
Tom explains: “From my experience I don’t think I would be this far advanced in my career and held in such high esteem by my employer, I am grateful for this tremendous experience.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the ISEiW team for the support they have given over the years and now look forward to the next phase of potentially working with the team to perhaps offer CPD as well as preparing apprentices for competitions.”
For more information on WorldSkills UK, click here https://www.worldskillsuk.org/