Taking on the world


COVID-19 scuppered the WorldSkills competition in 2020, but it’ll be back with a bang in 2022 as the industry’s talented newcomers go head-to-head to find out who’s best

Finding up-and-coming talent to turbocharge the automotive industry is a continuous process. It’s through international competitions that the stars of tomorrow can be found, and the challenge of competing can even help to inspire more young people to choose automotive as their career path.

In that spirit, the WorldSkills Competition is the place to be if you want to pit your wits against the best in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic may have curtailed the event in 2020 and resulted in the organising committee deciding to postpone this year’s contest, but the 46th WorldSkills Competition is now set to take place in Shanghai in October 2022.

To ensure that the decision to change the date didn’t eliminate any potential participants, the WorldSkills General Assembly has unanimously approved a onetime change in the age eligibility criteria. If a competitor was set to be eligible for the WorldSkills Competition 2021, then they’ll also be eligible for 2022.

Preparation is key

The delay meant that it was back to the drawing board for the team preparations. In the UK, WorldSkills UK’s Training Managers responded by launching new and innovative training methods to help keep squad members engaged and prepared while they wait for the Shanghai competition to roll around.

In a world first for auto skills, Barry McDaid organised a virtual pressure test for his squad members, who competed against a team from France. Rich Wheeler, who specialises in car painting, resumed face-to-face preparations and has held training events in Wales, Northern Ireland and Milton Keynes. Additionally, Riverpark Training in Northern Ireland, Frazer Minskip returned to face-to-face training, building on the virtual work he did during lockdown.

The hot topics

Competitors from around the world will compete in four automotive disciplines: autobody repair, car painting, heavy vehicle technology and automobile technology.

In autobody repair, competitors will be required to demonstrate the ability to remove damaged sections with minimum disruption to the surrounding bodywork and then reattach or realign the parts to restore the integrity of the bodyshell, whether welded, bolted or riveted. And for minor damage that doesn’t require the replacement of a part or panel, competitors need to be able to use a variety of repair tools to remove the damage and reinstate the panel’s original contours. Think shaped hammers and dollies, bumping files, body files, pry bars and oil stones.

In car painting, refinishers could be called upon to work on a wide range of vehicles, including passenger cars, racing cars, vintage and classic vehicles or commercial vehicles. Not only that, but they may be required to refinish a variety of different  materials too, including metals, plastics, composite materials and wood.

In heavy vehicle technology, competitors must be able to maintain, diagnose and repair internal combustion engines and components on stationary, mobile, tracked rubber-tyred equipment, ground-engaging equipment and earthmoving equipment.

And finally, the automobile technology category is a test of servicing, diagnosing and repairing across a range of light vehicles. For diagnosis and repair, depending on the nature of the workshop, competitors will use either the manufacturers’ equipment or other service and repair equipment, parts, materials and procedures.

Why take part?

The IMI Skills Competitions and WorldSkills are excellent ways for apprentices and automotive students to boost their careers. Skills competitions give young people the confidence they need at a critical stage of their career development, embedding the mindset of excellence in their work.

Many previous finalists have noticed that their careers have accelerated in the wake of these competitions. Participation looks fantastic on your CV, and it really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that can open many doors.

In fact, former IMI Skills Competition medallist Conor McKevitt, who won silver in car painting at WorldSkills 2019 in Kazan, Russia, was later awarded a British Empire  medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Team selection for WorldSkills Shanghai 2022 will take place next July, and we wish all entrants the best of luck in their training.

This is an edited extract from IMI's new MotorPro magazine, received free as part of IMI membership. Time to find out more about becoming a member of the most influential community in UK automotive…?