Twenty-year-old Rowen Small from Cheltenham has just completed his Level 3 body repair apprenticeship, and has been named a World Skills UK finalist for 2019.

The now-qualified technician is based at Apollo Motor Group in Cheltenham. Apollo works with national training provider, Remit Group, to deliver its UK apprenticeship programme.

Rowen was put forward for World Skills UK 2019, by his Remit apprenticeship development coach. In June he joined 17 fellow apprentices selected for the World Skills qualifying rounds in Yorkshire.

With 18 young people in the body repair category, this round was designed to whittle the contestants down to six. Rowen will now join the successful contestants at the UK national finals at the NEC in Birmingham this November.

Rowen was tasked with repairing a wing, carrying out filler repair and welding. All of these tasks are the day-to-day for someone like Rowen, although this time it was done under exam-style conditions, with lots of attention given to checking the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) was used, and whether the right tools are used for the job. Technique, finish and quality of work, were also key components for the judges.

“World Skills UK was a really great experience, and having been nominated for it by my Remit development coach, I was really chuffed to be there,” said Rowen.

“It was all stuff that we have done before at work. But there is this extra focus on PPE and the right tools, and making sure everything’s done within a particular time frame. Thanks to my training at Remit’s Academy in Derby and the support given to me by Apollo, I felt pretty confident in completing the tasks they set me.”

Rowen started his apprenticeship at 18 after giving A-Levels a go. “I did my A-Levels for a bit, but I didn’t get on with sixth form. I wanted to work in a quality garage, and after six months in another company that I didn’t enjoy, I found Apollo – and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve really enjoyed my apprenticeship and I’m very happy with my career.”

Rowen’s manager, Darran Morris, said: “We currently have two apprentices in Cheltenham, and we’re very happy with them both. Rowen was my first apprentice to go to World Skills and I’m really proud of him. When he first came to us, Rowen had lost a lot of his confidence following a bad experience with another company, which had been upsetting for him.

“We’ve worked with Remit to support Rowen and build his confidence and he’s really flourished. It’s a really big thing for Rowen, doing so well to be nominated to enter the World Skills competition, and completing his apprenticeship to such a good standard. We’re really proud of him and his fellow apprentice James.”