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Abigail - Squad UK CNC Milling competitor

Abigail from BAE Systems is thrilled to have been selected for the Squad UK CNC Milling team. Read on to find out why she was inspired to take part in our competitions and how they have helped to boost both her technical skills and her confidence. 

Abigail in Squad UK t-shirt

Tuesday, 25 Aug 2020

Each of us has our preferred method of learning and Abigail Stansfield was sure what would work best for her. “Personally, I found that doing an apprenticeship was the best path for me to take, because I’m a person who likes to learn practically, meaning that I like to try things out as I learn them. I loved the fact that I would be earning whilst working towards my qualifications.”

Although much is being done to attract women into STEM careers Abigail thinks we’re just starting to make headway. “Through doing an apprenticeship in engineering, I realised that I was in a very small percentage, being female. I don't see this as a challenge though, I see myself as equal to all the other people in my apprenticeship. I think it’s great that the number of females in STEM subjects is increasing, hopefully soon there will be a more equal split between genders.”

Abigail first heard about WorldSkills UK Competitions by helping out at a stand BAE Systems had at the National Finals held at WorldSkills UK LIVE. “I looked at the people competing and I wanted to achieve what they had. So from then on, I set it as my goal to compete nationally for CNC Milling. However, now reaching Squad UK I can't wait for the possible opportunity to compete internationally.”

First competing in November 2018 She achieved Highly Commended status and in 2019 topped this by securing a Bronze Medal. Abigail feels she has developed her skills, “I love to see how far I have come, it means that all the hard work and training I have done is working. It makes me feel proud of myself that a task I used to struggle to complete, I can now do in half the time and with so much more confidence in myself.

"WorldSkills UK Competitions have taught me to be proud of the journey I have completed. I have a new-found confidence in my skill, which directly links to my day-to-day job.”

The biggest challenge for Abigail was not the actual competing but the Covid-19 pandemic. “Being trapped at home not being able to see loved ones has a negative impact on your mental health and impacts your motivation for training. However, due to not being able to go on training trips, we have managed to complete so much more training than we had planned for. This is all because of video calling and being able to share screens to work through any problems we might be facing. Even after lockdown I think we will continue to work like this, as we have all progressed massively."

Abigail is thrilled to have been selected for Squad UK, “I was so proud of myself when I received the email to say I had been selected, having been checking my emails regularly as we knew what week they were due to be sent out!”

As a Squad UK member she is undergoing the skills set and mindset training that WorldSkills UK is renowned for, to be in the running to join Team UK in competing on the international stage. “It would mean the world to me to have the opportunity to be able to compete for myself, my country and my work internationally. It’s my goal to be able to achieve this, however I know through training alone I have got loads out of the programme.

"My favourite part has been bettering myself in my skill, this has grown my confidence massively in both WorldSkills Competitions aspects and my work.”

It is these employability skills that underpin technical skills that employers value so much. “Through taking part in WorldSkills competitions, I have been asked at work to complete interviews and have now got a few photos of myself around site. This will be great for my future career prospects, through the positivity WorldSkills UK has added.”

 Andy MacDonald, Tooling Supervisor at BAE Systems High Tech Task Force division sees very clearly the benefits of Abi’s competition experience coming back into the workplace. “Abi’s time competing in the WorldSkills UK Competitions has really helped to develop her CNC programming and machining skills, accelerating her integration into a highly skilled team within a high-tech tooling facility. She now has the respect of her peers and the trust of the leadership team to perform at a level not usually seen from someone so early into their career.

“I believe Abi’s competition experience with WorldSkills UK has given her the confidence to explore bold and innovative solutions which she then applies to her day-to-day work. This ability to challenge the norm is something we value at Bae Systems and is helping to drive our industry forward well into the future.

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