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Ambitious Burnley College apprentice welder heading to China to test his metal against the rest of the work

Kieran McShane burnley college welding apprentice

A young welder who goes to Burnley College is delighted to be selected to represent Great Britain at the ‘Olympics of engineering’, the WorldSkills Competition.

Kieran McShane, a third-year apprentice with Themis at Burnley College, is heading to Shanghai to take part in the vocational skills competition, where he will battle against top welders from up to 85 countries in the highly competitive Construction Metalwork category.

The 20-year-old from Accrington was selected to be one of the 39 Team UK competitors after his excellent metalwork and attention to detail was noticed while he was an Advanced Level Welding Apprentice at WEC Group Ltd, in nearby Darwen.

Kieran is thrilled to have been selected as part of the elite squad that will represent the UK against challengers from all over the world at the WorldSkills competition in China this October.

An example of Kieran’s work.

He said: “This is a huge competition and I am absolutely over the moon to have been selected to represent the UK.

“The format is really tough – we’ll get sheet steel and tools and be given around 20 hours to build whatever they give us the plans for.

“Everybody will get the same plans, but it’s going to be really tough. The standard is exceptionally high, and we’ll be judged on everything, from welding and bending to cutting and fabrication.

“I can’t wait to take on this challenge.”

For the competition, Kieran and the other Construction Metalwork competitors will be given tools and sheet metal, and will get around 20 hours to build something according to the exact plans that they won’t see until the competition begins.

Kieran is keen to surpass former Themis at Burnley College Apprentice Tyler Atkinson, who came an impressive 11th place at the previous championship, which was held in Kazan, Russia, in 2019.

Burnley College have named 2022 as the Year of the Themis Apprentice, and Assistant Principal Neil Burrows is delighted to have another apprentice at the world’s most prestigious vocational skills competition.

Neil, who leads on Apprenticeships, Employer Engagement and Adult Skills at Burnley College, said: “We have a very impressive history sending Themis Apprentices to the WorldSkills Championship, and we have every faith in Kieran to produce some exceptional work and perform well under pressure.

“To have such a high calibre of engineering talent on our Themis Apprenticeship programmes reflects the excellent ties Burnley College has with local industry and employers, and the commitment we have in ensuring each and every apprentice is empowered to be the best of the best.

“The North West has always had a proud manufacturing history and, with young people like Kieran leading the way, our region will continue to be at the forefront of British industry.

“We know he will do us, and himself, proud.”

Kieran is one of 39 Team UK students and Apprentices selected through a series of domestic competitions in over 30 disciplines including welding, hairdressing, mechatronics and 3D game art.

Team UK will go up against 85 countries over the intense four-day competition in October, in a competition originally scheduled to take place last year, but delayed due to the pandemic.

WorldSkills UK’s deputy CEO Ben Blackledge said: “After the delays and difficulties of the past couple of years, we should all be proud of the skill and determination these young professionals have shown to get out there and fly the flag for the UK.

“They represent the very best in their field, but will have to be at the top of their game competing against their peers from across the globe.”

Kieran followed his brother into welding when he left school and decided he wanted to do an apprenticeship.

He said: “I knew that university wasn’t for me, and that an apprenticeship was the right thing to do.

“I wanted to earn while I learned, and I applied for quite a few before I was selected by WEC.

“Burnley College have helped me every step of the way so far, and while I have finished the theoretical learning aspect of my five-year apprenticeship, I know they’ll support me in whatever ways I need during my final two years.

“I’ve got to get plenty of practice in from now until October, and I’m sure it will be tough, but I’m up for the challenge.”