A YOUNG apprentice from Oxford has struck gold in the UK’s most prestigious skills competition, after months of intensive training.

Tony Yarinakis triumphed in the CNC Milling competition, a computer control competition, at the WorldSkills UK National Final last month.

The 21-year-old from East Hendred now has the opportunity to take part in the “International Skills Olympics” in France in 2024.

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The British squad for the prestigious international tournament will be announced early next year.

Mr Yarinakis had to master ‘computer numerical control’ technology to prevail against competitors from across the UK in the final in Blackpool.

CNC technology shapes metal and other strong materials to create products used in nearly every aspect of modern life, from cars and smart phones to kitchen appliances and prosthetic limbs.

Mr. Yarinakis is an apprentice mechanical engineer who works at the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

He said: “I was watching the medal ceremony at home and couldn’t believe it when my name was announced. I wanted to participate to compete against the best in the UK and see how I did.

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“I can’t believe I came out on top of the pack and I’m really excited to see what opportunities the competition opens up in the WorldSkills UK final now.

“It’s amazing to get this award after investing so much time and effort. I am very grateful to Joel Keen who won the competition in 2019 and who has been so supportive and helpful in sharing his knowledge.

Designed by industry experts, the competitions help young people develop personally and professionally by developing their technical and employability skills, while highlighting the incredible skills potential in the UK.

Over 500 students and apprentices took part in the finals in over 60 disciplines held at seven venues across the UK earlier this month.

The finalists underwent a seven-month process of regional heats and intensive training before competing in the final.

They learned of their victory during a live special from Channel 4’s Packed Lunch studios, hosted by Steph McGovern.

WorldSkills UK Deputy Managing Director Ben Blackledge said: “What a performance. Being crowned best in the UK is no small feat, especially with all the disruption and difficulties competitors have had to overcome in recent years.

“Everyone who showed up at WorldSkills UK competitions this year is truly an inspiration and should be proud of their efforts.

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“Skills are the engine of any economy, creating high-quality jobs, rewarding careers, foreign investment and growth.”

This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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