In a fast-paced and dynamic environment such as specialty chemicals, fostering young talents is a key aspect of success. As the innovation progresses, nurturing talents, with their fresh perspectives and innovative ideas, becomes an indispensable tool for driving progress. Among the young members of the Italmatch Team you can also meet Kasia Gierek, Laboratory Scientist Apprentice Lubricant Performance Additives at our Manchester site. Kasia has achieved a great result which made our Company really proud of her: she has reached the National Finals of the WorldSkills UK competition in the Laboratory Technician category.
What is WorldSkills?
“WorldSkills is a global movement which tests the ability of young people starting out in their career, to achieve the highest standard of skill and expertise in their chosen field via competition-based training – said Kasia – The competitions are designed by industry experts and help young people grow personally and professionally by developing their technical and employability skills.
Those who excel in the National Qualifiers are invited to take part in the National Finals, in November 2023, with the winners crowned the UK’s best in their chosen skill. I am a WorldSkills UK National Finalist in the laboratory technician category”.
How did you enter the competition? Can you tell us more about the qualifying rounds?
“I saw the competition advertised by the Royal Society of Chemistry in January and decided to register. The journey to the Finals consisted in two stages.
The first is the Entry Stage. It involved completing an online assessment, which consisted of answering questions about laboratory techniques, equipment maintenance and chemistry calculations”.
“The second stage is the National qualifiers. I completed a day of assessed laboratory work at the University of Manchester. This involved using my practical skills and knowledge to carry out 2 problem solving tasks within a set timeframe. The judges, who are industry experts within the chemical field, observed and asked questions.
The 8 highest scorers of the 117 registrants were chosen to participate in the National Finals. We will attend training in October, followed by the competition which will take place over 3 days between 14th-18th November.
Here we will compete against each other, with the winner being named the best in the UK during an award ceremony on the final day. The highest scoring participants will get the opportunity to represent the UK as a laboratory technician at the next International WorldSkills event in 2026“.
How has Italmatch supported your growth during the apprenticeship?
“I am now 3 years into my 4-year degree apprenticeship with Italmatch and Manchester Metropolitan University. Having the opportunity to study whilst learning hands on in the lab has helped me develop a strong skills set, and a firm understanding of why certain procedures are carried out within a laboratory environment.
My colleagues and tutors’ encouragement gives me the confidence to apply my skills to any situation. This has fostered a problem-solving mindset, which has helped me progress to this stage of the competition”.
What do you think of the WorldSkills experience? And what do you expect from the Finals?
“I am excited to participate in the competition and to face the new challenges that the Finals will bring.
The mentoring I have received from my colleagues at Italmatch and tutors at university has been invaluable in enabling me to perform to the best of my ability and embrace this fantastic opportunity”.
Thank you Kasia for sharing such an inspiring story with us. The Italmatch Team wishes you all the best for the Finals!