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Flying the flag for UK RACHP: an interview with Orlando Rawlings

This August, SkillFRIDGE 2017 Bronze medallist and service engineer at Daikin UK, Orlando Rawlings, will fly the flag for the UK RACHP industry when he travels to Russia to compete at WorldSkills Kazan 2019. ACR News spoke with him to find out more.

Orlando Rawlings.

Orlando, congratulations! How does it feel to be selected for WorldSkills Kazan 2019?

I was in total shock when WorldSkills UK told me I was joining Team UK. Not many people can say they have represented their country, and I am determined to do everyone proud in Russia – my family, my friends and Daikin UK.  

How do you prepare to take part in the ‘Skills Olympics’?

It really is quite similar to how our athletes prepare for the Olympic Games. I have been training with WorldSkills UK since 2017 and I’ve spent lots of time working with Mark Forsyth – my training manager and the head SkillFRIDGE judge – focusing on my skills development. However, what did surprise me was that the training we are put through teaches us how we must be ‘competition fit’. This includes what we should be eating, how we should be sleeping and techniques to help us cope with competing in front of the 100,000 visitors who will be in Kazan watching us. It’s the same training that Team GB goes through to prepare for the Olympics.

That sounds full on. Can you give us more details?

Working with Mark, I complete blocks of training – usually for a week at a time. This all needs to be fitted around my job at Daikin UK. They have been really supportive, especially my manager Dan Blanchard. Although the training is designed to help me perform well in Russia, it has also helped me become a better engineer at Daikin UK and I hope more apprentices in the company can get involved in skills competitions. 

As part of my training I recently worked on an ice rink project, designing and building a refrigeration system with a flooded evaporator and using a secondary refrigerant to chill the ice down to -10°C. I also had to install the electrical circuit for each component and commission it. My training will continue right up until I board the plane to Russia in August.

What can you expect from the competition in Russia?

I won’t know the exact details until I arrive at the competition site in Kazan. I know I have a sound understanding of the technical skills required, but the difficulty will be completing the test project to exact requirements under the strict, timed conditions. There’s no room for a mistake.

How did you get involved in SkillFRIDGE?

My lecturer at Grimsby Institute told us about SkillFRIDGE. I thought, “What I have got to lose?” I reached the finals, which are held at WorldSkills UK LIVE, and won Bronze in 2017. Following that I was invited to join the WorldSkills UK Training and Development programme for WorldSkills Kazan 2019. I have to pinch myself to realise how far I have come!

What attracted you to a career in RACHP?

When I was younger I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. My uncle arranged for me to have some work experience at Rolls-Royce, where he worked, and from that day I knew I wanted to be an engineer.   

I was lucky that my school, Patchway Community School in Bristol, had a proactive approach to careers advice. We had talks from the National Apprenticeship Service and being able to earn while you learn seemed like a great opportunity; I started looking for an engineering apprenticeship and secured one with Daikin UK.  I love being able to fix things and want to progress as far as I can in the engineering industry.


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