Lewis McLeod of BAE Systems Naval Ships has won the 2014 ESAB Shipweld competition for welding apprentices. When he picked up the trophy it was a time to reflect on the success of a competition that has been running for 6 years – and the standards of welding just get better and better.
This year’s final was held at BAE Systems’ Govan site over 3 days. The five finalists battled it out to demonstrate their flux cored wire and MMA (SMAW) welding skills across a number of challenging components and in keeping with shipyard training requirements.
Whilst Lewis McLeod was judged to be the overall winner, Tony Johnson, Judge and Technical Information Officer at ESAB, praised all the finalists: “The standards achieved by all finalists was very high indeed, with little to separate them. Looking at the competition as a whole, year on year we have seen a continual improvement in results. This year the winner has achieved an overall mark of over 87 per cent compared with 78 per cent when the competition originally started – with the marking criteria as tough as they have always been. The tests that the contestants have to take reflect the welding skills they require on a day-to-day basis, but in a competitive environment. So the event also has great practical value, not just for them, but also for their trainers and employers.”
Indeed, as winner Lewis says: “It was a tough competition and put us all under a lot of pressure. We found the challenge and camaraderie a great experience that we can put to good use in our day to day jobs. Personally, I really enjoyed the MMA welding tasks as this very established welding craft is still widely used and gives the welder a chance to really showcase his skills.”
Representing BAE Systems at the awards ceremony, Head of Operations John Morrison and Jamie Webster, Govan TU Convenor, spoke very positively in their presentations about the heritage and exciting future of welding practice. This comes at a time when the UK engineering sector is very buoyant, with BAE Systems itself one of the organisations leading the way in this resurgence.
David Wilson, Training Coordinator – Steelwork at BAE Systems, says: “We are totally committed to our apprenticeship schemes and this Shipweld competition is an excellent grounding and springboard for the future welding careers of all competitors. We really value ESAB’s commitment to welding skills development.”
At the prize ceremony, Lewis McLeod also picked up the Job Knowledge Test Award, an exacting examination of welding technology and application. The Welding Craft Skills runner-up was Stuart Allan of Babcock Marine, Rosyth and the Team Prize went to BAE Systems Naval Ships.
George Good, ESAB Sales & Welding Development Engineer and Cheron Robinson, ESAB Marcom Manager for Western Europe, presented the awards. George says: “There remains a skills shortage in the UK which ironically is in part due to the current upturn in the engineering sector. It can be a struggle for some companies to find young, committed welders but Shipweld clearly helps to showcase the profession. This year’s competition has brought out the best in the young welders from BAE Systems and Babcock Marine and their enthusiasm was great to see. This can inspire others to consider careers in welding and we have already seen how past competitors have gone on to forge excellent careers in many different areas of welding technology and training.”
As the ceremony drew to a close, BAE Systems passed over the Shipweld torch to Babcock Marine who will host the 2015 finals in Rosyth. Interyard competitions will kick off early in 2015.
Visit www.esab.co.uk for more details about the ESAB Shipweld competition for welding apprentices.