SOE member Michael joins international skills competition automotive training team.

The influence of Northern Ireland vehicle training providers TTS is set to extend even further afield after technical trainer Michael Hutchinson joined the World Skills coaching team.

World Skills is a competition that gives young people the opportunity to explore different professions and career paths, from floristry to bricklaying to automotive technology, in 70 completely independent disciplines. It uses the resources of business, education and government to create an immersive experience for competitors that is both fun and challenging.

In 2019, almost 600 apprentices took part, making it the biggest skills, careers and apprenticeship event in the UK. Not only that, the event attracts 72,000 young visitors from schools across the country, displaying to them a huge variety of career options through open testing and educational forums.

Winners of the UK competition – held at the NEC - will go on to compete at the international event in Shanghai, known as the ‘Skills Olympics’. This year, apprentices in the automotive category will be trained by Michael, who has joined the team in the build-up to the event in Birmingham.

“Any technician taking part will have an incredible experience; it supercharges their career. It gives them a real boost and a true insight into the industry – there are just no negatives at all,” said Michael.

“Competitors can find out more about the whole automotive world. We can show how, in this industry, you can start at the beginning and move the whole way up; the possibilities are endless,” he added.

Michael’s role with the World Skills team as the Assistant Training Manager is an extension of his work for TTS, where he trains and mentors light and heavy goods vehicle apprentices. He firmly believes that the changes the industry is going through are good news for the next generation of technicians.

“Career possibilities now are multiple. Our students know from the beginning that you can stay as a technician if that is your preference, but there will be many opportunities that you will need to grab when they come along if you want to keep moving forward.

“Light and heavy goods vehicles are now using modern technology and fully electric will be here soon, so it’s an exciting time to be involved in industry. I tell this to all my apprentices. You’re going to be working on some incredible vehicles, including hybrids and even autonomous. It has seemed like something out of a movie but now it’s become reality," added Michael (pictured left).

Regular hosts of the technical presentations for the Ireland North regional group, TTS has successfully created a hub for transport operators, technicians, drivers and managers, supporting the industry at all levels. The meetings at its facility in Nutts Corner, Belfast, invariably attracts a record-breaking number of attendees, and has set the standard for regional groups by creating a perfect environment for interactive learning. Operators in the region can now go to TTS for Workshop Accreditation assessments.

“Everyone at Ireland North is totally committed to IRTE and incredibly passionate about the industry. We want to pass our knowledge on in support of the industry by spending time speaking to people and listening to their concerns. Our future events will try to push boundaries further,” said Michael.

Since doing his own apprenticeship in 1998, Michael has built up a wealth of knowledge that he is now intent on passing on to his apprentices and help to fill the void of heavy vehicle technicians in Northern Ireland.

“There’s nothing more satisfying than when students are doing online assessments and they get good results, or when they are doing practical tasks and you can see the point when the students just get it. That for me is one of the big highlights.”

To find out more about the World Skills competition, go to:

More information on TTS can be found at:

Contact your local SOE region