On Saturday 23rd November, at the NEC in Birmingham, the annual WorldSkills UK competition took place. This competition allows young people to go head-to-head with similarly skilled peers for either gold, silver or bronze in their chosen area and aims to accelerate the careers of young people across the nation by partnering with business, educational establishments and government.

This year, two members of the Amazon Future Engineer apprenticeship programme, Luke Vials and Mantas Budraitis, worked as a team to compete against 500 of the top apprentices in the national finals. They were shortlisted after impressing judges at the qualifiers by creating a robot capable of independently and accurately performing a series of given tasks.

The two-person team went on to triumph in the WorldSkills finals, winning gold and becoming UK national champions in the Robotics category.

Meet the winners: Luke and Mantas

Luke Vials (30) has worked at Amazon’s Coalville fulfilment centre for more than two years and has been part of the Amazon Apprenticeship Programme for 18 months. Luke credits this achievement to the pair’s teamwork saying, “we found we worked really well together and if we ever had any issues, we helped each other out.”

Luke believes the Amazon Future Engineer apprenticeship programme has been key to helping his personal and professional development: “I’ve learned a lot during the Apprenticeship Programme as each day is a different learning experience. I would urge anyone interested in the Amazon Apprenticeship Programme to go for it. Amazon gives opportunities to everyone - I thought I would be the oldest one but there are apprentices older than me. The World Skills competition has been one of the many exciting things I’ve had the chance to work on.”

Mantas Budraitis (24) is also part of Amazon’s Apprenticeship Programme and is based in the Peterborough fulfilment centre. “I started at Amazon in Peterborough as an associate and I’ve worked my way up to my dream job,” he said. “When I had the opportunity to apply for an engineering apprenticeship, I was really excited because when I was a child, I had two passions: cooking and building things. I love what I do at Amazon as I work on electrical maintenance, problem-solving and robotics. My family and friends are all really happy for me and I appreciate the team at Amazon in Peterborough for giving me this opportunity.”

Mantas Budraitis, an AFE apprentice, standing with his arms crossed at the Peterborough fulfilment centre

Mantas Budraitis at the Peterborough fulfilment centre

“During my time at Amazon, I’ve learned the importance of teamwork and communication,” Mantas added. “You can learn the skills of engineering in many places but support from your team is what makes the difference to having success in the future. Luke and I worked very well as part of a team as he’s really good at programming and testing, whereas I am stronger at building. We supported each other and I learned a lot from him about programming.”

“At WorldSkills UK we work to accelerate the development of young people’s skills from national to world-class standards,” said Dr. Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE, Chief Executive at WorldSkills UK. “We’re creating a new generation of high-flyers that give UK employers a competitive edge.”

How is Amazon helping the next generation of STEM professionals?

Amazon has a long-term commitment to fostering the next generation of STEM professionals. If you’re interested in finding out more about what we’re doing in this space, please check out Amazon Future Engineer - a new and comprehensive childhood-to-career programme to inspire, educate and enable children and young adults from lower-income backgrounds to try computer science. The programme works in three key areas:

  • Primary: Get inspired at a robotics workshop at an Amazon fulfilment centre. Have a go at playing with mini robots and see computer science in action. You can also learn about our collaboration with Code.org as part of Hour of Code.
  • Secondary: Train to be a computer science teacher with education charity Teach First and benefit from support and experiences from Amazon. You can also learn about how Amazon is supporting Teach First’s Careers Leader programme.

Earlier this year Amazon also extended the range of its paid apprenticeship schemes, both in corporate and operations roles.

Amazon also took part in a takeover of This Is Engineering Day in November – follow the link for some handy tips on how to get involved with engineering education, training and careers.

Visit WorldSkills UK for more information.