Former Chichester College student to compete in skills ‘Olympics’

Written by Eleanor on 11th March 2019

A former Chichester College student will represent the UK at one of the world’s most important and prestigious skills competitions.

Owen Aldous will travel to Russia in August with Team UK for the WorldSkills 2019 Finals.

He will be competing in the cabinet making category, having excelled in recent national competitions in the field and impressed at last week’s final selection.

Owen said: “I’m really excited about it – I had no idea I would be chosen as it’s been really close throughout training.

“We’ve all worked really hard to get here. The training is intense, and it’s tough both physically and mentally as you try to improve and get better.

“It takes a lot of work and countless hours, but worth it! It’s a good feeling to know I’m going to be representing my country.”

Owen joins more than 30 of the UK’s best and brightest young skilled apprentices and students from across a range of industries, including engineering, construction, hospitality and IT, who have been chosen to represent all four nations in Team UK after a competitive two-year selection process.

He follows in the footsteps of a number of Chichester College students, with both Edward Harringman and George Callow – now Owen’s manager at Callow & Co – both winning gold for the UK at WorldSkills in 2015 and 2013 respectively.

Owen added: “George and Luke [Griffiths, another former Chichester College student who won a medal of excellence at WorldSkills in 2009] have both been brilliant.

“They both competed at WorldSkills and obviously George was a gold medal winner, so they understand the competition and have been supporting me, as well as giving me some training so I’ve been able to benefit from their experience.”

Under the guidance of Christian Notley MBE, UK Training Manager for cabinet making and deputy head of learning for furniture at Chichester College, Owen has been training alongside two other cabinet makers - including Tom Pennicott, another former Chichester student.

Christian said: “The whole furniture department is really proud of Owen’s achievement and his determination is an example to all the students who have seen the way he trained for this event.

“The next few months are going to be very busy for Owen as he prepares for Kazan, with several weeks of intensive training in the UK along with three international tests where he’ll travel to China, Russia and Australia to compete under pressure.”

Shelagh Legrave OBE, Chief Executive of Chichester College Group, added: "We are delighted to hear that Owen has been selected to join Team UK for this year’s WorldSkills competition.

“We have a strong pedigree at WorldSkills and I’m sure Owen will be able to benefit from not only training with Christian but also working alongside George and Luke. Their experience will be invaluable to Owen, I’m sure.”

The WorldSkills Finals will take place in Kazan, Russia from 22 to 27 August.

Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE, CEO of WorldSkills UK, which selects and trains the team and uses their successes to promote skills across the country, said: “Think Olympic Games – but much more important to the economic future of the United Kingdom.

“This is a life-changing opportunity for all those involved.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these extraordinary young people who will be on the plane to Russia.  They have worked tirelessly for weeks, months and years to be the best – they are a shining example to the next generation – let’s celebrate their spirit, commitment, and success.

“We are not only giving young people the opportunity to reach their full potential but we also believe that, working with them, we can transfer the insights gained from competing against other countries into the wider UK economy, driving up training standards for young people to world-class levels, giving a much-needed boost to productivity.”

More than 60 countries are sending elite teams to the Tatarstan Capital - 800 km east of Moscow - to do battle and go for bronze, silver and gold in 56 different skills disciplines.

The event, dubbed the ‘Skills Olympics’, will be shown live on TV and streamed around the world (including the UK).

At the last WorldSkills finals (2017) in Abu Dhabi, Team UK finished in 10th position and is hoping to replicate or better the result.