Honda Apprentice Wins Gold at The Skills Show
If at first you don’t succeed, try until you do. This could be the mantra of 26-year-old vehicle technician Mark Yates, who won gold in the AutoTech competition at The Skills Show in November.
Having already fought off 1200 entrants, 18 competitors took part in the AutoTech final at The Skills Show, organised by SkillAuto, a subsidiary of The Institute of the Motor Industry.
The Path to Success
Mark Yates’ skills were put to the test over two days, judged by industry experts in front of a live audience. ‘I’ve been in other finals before, but this was the first time with people watching. I would look up and there would be a big group of school children with their teacher telling them what was going on. I just kept my head down and got on with it. But they were standing two feet away!’
While Mark ended up a gold medallist, it’s taken several years of persistent hard work to get here. He initially studied electronics at college and then planned to study automotive electronics at university. But when the course was cancelled he spent a year doing automotive design, before dropping out.
Mark then worked in a factory building generator engines, and a year later was made redundant. But by then Mark had seen a vacancy for an apprenticeship at Holdcroft Honda in Stoke-on-Trent.
‘When I was at school I didn’t know anything about apprenticeships. A-Levels were seen as the only option. But I always wanted something hands-on. The apprenticeship is progressive - you start off with simple things, you work with a mentor and you’re given more and more to do. I’ve learnt a lot over three years and enjoyed it all,’ he says.
Going for Gold
In his first year, Mark got through to the UK Skills Show regional final. In the second year he reached the national final, last year he won silver, and now finally gold.
‘When I was at school we were taken to a few career things. It was just a lot of people sat round desks giving you brochures. If I had gone to something like The Skills Show it might have pointed me in the right direction. Instead it took me six years.’
‘Competitors work under great pressure,’ explains Kate Moloughney from the National Apprenticeship Service, which manages WorldSkills UK. ‘In their day job they’re in a workshop; with this there is an element of drama, and the hardest thing is, they can’t talk to anyone!
‘We’re very proud of Mark, he was spot on,’ adds Simon Ferguson, Honda Technical Trainer. ‘I’ve spent time training him so to get gold was brilliant. We like our people to do well.’