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Owain's going for gold at WorldSkills

""The WorldSkills competition, often described as the ‘skills Olympics’ begins today (August 11-18) in Brazil.

The event will see around 1,000 young people from across the globe, aged 18 to 25, compete for medals in more than 40 different skills - including Bricklaying, Electrical Installation and Welding.

We caught up with Owain Jones, 21 from Dolgellau and a former CITB Cymru Wales apprentice, who will be heading to São Paulo to compete in the carpentry competition as part of Team UK. Owain is one of three current or former CITB apprentices competing in Brazil.

I feel immensely proud to represent the UK in doing something that I love, and to experience a new culture. I’ve never been to Brazil before, so I’m excited to get out there and to show them what I can do and meet people from around the world with the same interests and goals.

I have worked in construction for over five years, undertaking a three year apprenticeship with local builder HB Davenport supported by CITB Cymru Wales.

During my studies and as part of my apprenticeship at Meirion Dwyfor College, I became interested in competing in skills competitions. SkillBuild is where I started off, and it’s a great test for young people to develop skills in their trade.

I won the UK national SkillBuild final in 2013 and was put forward to try out for the Squad UK pool. After an intense competition over in Northern Ireland I secured my place on the UK Squad alongside two other candidates.

I had a fantastic year training with the squad and competing in Denmark in a pressure test to see how I could cope with international competition. A final competition was held between the three of us for a place on Team UK, which I won in June this year. It’s been crazy ever since!

The reaction from everyone on winning the place has been fantastic. My family and the community as a whole are extremely proud of my achievements, and I can’t go out now without someone congratulating me on my success. I have also been lucky enough to attend a number of events celebrating Team UK. A special event was held at The Senedd for we four Welsh members of the team.

WorldSkills is like a marathon but with a lot of fast sprints during the process to get the job done to the best of your ability. It calls upon everything you have, much like any other competition on a world level. Those competing at WorldSkills are similar to a world class athlete, but instead of being masters of sport we are masters of our skills. 

Over the last few months I have been busy preparing for Brazil by practising my carpentry skills and doing a lot of geometry and maths to be able to complete the task. The competition really does test you and I have done a lot of physical training. Nutrition and sleeping have also been adapted to help me perform at peak fitness out in São Paulo.

WorldSkills has really taught me some fantastic skills and given me a lot of confidence. I’m now a self-employed carpenter and joiner, standing on my own two feet and dealing with my own clients. It's safe to say the experience I have had competing has been life changing, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for this.

There is a massive misconception about the construction industry that those working within it are all under-achievers and didn’t do well in school. I could have gone to University and done an academic course, as my GCSE results were among the best in the school but I chose another route.  

I have achieved a lot in my career so far, and it just goes to show how far you can go in construction if you’re willing to do the work, and I’m not done yet!  

About the author

Owain Jones, 21, is from Dolgellau in Wales and is a former CITB Cymru Wales apprentice. He is now self- employed.

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