FANUC UK begins search to find Britain’s best young robotics talent

As part of its ongoing drive to encourage more young people to begin a career in automation and engineering, FANUC UK is inviting the country’s brightest young minds to take part in the WorldSkills UK Industrial Robotics competition.

For the fourth year running, the industrial automation company is partnering with WorldSkills UK to give apprentices and students the chance to learn key robotics programming and operating skills with help from FANUC experts – and even earn the right to represent Squad UK at the international finals in China.

Entry is open at www.worldskillsuk.org/competitions/industrial-robotics from 26 February-29 March 2024 for teams of two people aged 16+. After completing an initial simulated entry-stage task, successful applicants will undertake training with FANUC ahead of the hands-on qualifier stage, which is being held at the Smart Factory Expo on 5-6 June at the NEC Birmingham. Visitors to the event will also be able to test their skills by taking part in a similar robotics trial alongside the competitors.

The WorldSkills UK Industrial Robotics competition reaches its peak in November when, following further training, the most talented teams will compete to programme and operate a robot in a real-world task at the National Finals during FANUC UK’s Open House event, held at its Coventry HQ. Winners will then be selected for Squad UK to compete in Shanghai in 2026.

“It’s crucial that the next generation is given the opportunity to explore the world of robotics and automation, to help nurture a passion that could lead to a future career path,” says Satty Cole, Business Development Manager for Education, FANUC UK. “Finding talented and enthusiastic students and taking them on the WorldSkills UK journey is immensely important to FANUC as part of our drive to support and train young people looking to consider a career in automation, and to bridge the current manufacturing skills gap. Gaining experience with real-world industrial robots and receiving hands-on training from current FANUC robotics engineers can help to ignite a spark in a young person that could last a lifetime.”

Peter O’Neill was part of the 2023 winning team and is keen to encourage other students to take part in this year’s competition: “You will learn new skills which could open future job opportunities. Participating in WorldSkills and qualifying for the national finals is something that will stand out on a CV.”

Ben Blackledge, Chief Executive, WorldSkills UK adds: “Skills will continue to be a key differentiator for business both at home and abroad and through our programmes we are working to ensure that all apprentices and students across the UK can gain access to high-quality technical education and apprenticeships that lead to real success for them and the UK as a whole.” 

How to apply

Register in teams of two via the WorldSkills website www.worldskillsuk.org/competitions/industrial-robotics from 26 February 2024. Entries close on 29 March 2024.

Entry criteria

Eligible entrants are 16+ year old students in groups of two. Schools and colleges are encouraged to invite students to register, safe in the knowledge that FANUC will provide training and one on one support to the teams that make it through. There is no limit to the number of teams permitted to enter this competition per organisation.

Entrants must be present for the final stage of the competition at the National Finals in Coventry in November 2024. They must also be within a year of completion of a relevant Level 3 Apprenticeship and/or hold qualifications in an engineering-based subject to a minimum of a Level 3 or equivalent. Additionally, applicants must not have been employed within the industry of the chosen skill for more than three years prior to registration, not including the period of an apprenticeship.

The Passive Stage will require teams to complete a task on FANUC’s ROBOGUIDE system, which they can access using the 30-day free licence. FANUC will then provide everyone who makes it to the final with a free ROBOGUIDE educational license, to support their studies further.

Competition timeline

  • Entries open (26 February 2024)
  • Entries close (29 March 2024)
  • Passive stage (April 2024) – assessment of the team using simulation software
  • National Qualifiers (June 2024)
  • Announcement of finalists (summer 2024)
  • Training and development (autumn 2024)
  • National Finals (November 2024)
  • Squad UK – the winning team will represent their country at the International Finals in Shanghai, China in 2026 and compete against the winning teams from other countries. NOTE: International competitors must be 25 or under.

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