Adam Bushnell is one of Team UK’s 43 elite young craftsmen and craftswomen competing in this year’s WorldSkills event which pitches Britain’s finest talents against their peers from more than 50 countries, across 45 trades from graphic design to hairdressing and landscape gardening.

After winning multiple awards for his work, the 21-year-old is fast becoming a much sought-after, self-employed joiner after setting up his own business in 2011.

Joinery uses a mixture of basic and very complex woodworking joints to create customised doors, windows, stairs and other fittings — often without the use of any screws, adhesive or other fixings.

Mr Bushnell’s passion and flair for this started early. He explained: “When I was little, I was always outside in the shed, making wooden toys and other things with my dad.”

At 14, he had a week’s work experience with Kidlington builders Kingerlee.

“That was when I knew I wanted to be a joiner, rather than an engineer,” he said. “I decided I wanted to do hands-on work, not just pressing buttons and operating machines.”

Mr Bushnell, now 21, is quick to appreciate the encouragement and guidance he received from teachers and mentors.

Nick Humphreys, now head of design and technology at St Gregory the Great Catholic School in east Oxford, is full of praise for his former student.

He said: “Adam is an exceptionally talented craftsman, who’s destined for the very top of his profession.

“He was a pleasure to teach — always wanting to learn and striving for absolute perfection. He has ability and maturity way beyond his years and I’d recommend him to anyone.”

After gaining ten GCSEs, Mr Bushnell set about finding an apprenticeship, contacting every joinery company in the Oxford area, until he got an offer from Rosewood Joinery in Kennington.

Studying by block and day release at Oxford and Cherwell Valley College alongside his job, he quickly emerged as top of his class.

This led to regional and national wins in the construction industry SkillBuild awards in 2008 and being named Apprentice of the Year in 2010.

His college tutor and WorldSkills training manager, Paul Tierney, said: “Adam is probably the most highly skilled and able joinery student I’ve ever had the privilege of teaching.”

Mr Bushnell’s talent is fuelled by a love of his work and he admits to becoming completely absorbed when engaged on a particularly demanding project.

Unsurprisingly, he is a strong advocate for bespoke, quality workmanship, rather than mass-produced items.

“When you employ a joiner, you can get anything you want, exactly how you want it — any shape or size,” he said.

“And you know it’s something unique, that will really last. I enjoy seeing something through — from the design and drawings, right up to making and fitting whatever customers want.”

In his new, self-employed role, Mr Bushnell has some unusual company and help from Paddy, his three-year-old chocolate Labrador who goes with him to his workshop.

“Obviously I can’t take Paddy with me when I go to clients’ homes, but it’s nice having him around when I’m preparing things,” he said.

Looking ahead, he is keen to do more furniture design and cabinet making.

But right now, he is undergoing an intensive build up for WorldSkills — travelling to Team UK training events every other weekend.

“It’s like the Skills Olympics, so as well as practising our trades, we also do team-building and mental fitness tests, so we can all peak at exactly the right time,” he explained.

Mr Bushnell joined the other members of Team UK for receptions at the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace to mark their achievement in being selected as world-class leaders in their trades.

He knows what he’s up against, because he has already been a squad observer at the 2009 WorldSkills competition in Canada.

“It is great being part of this and I am becoming more confident and improving all the time, so WorldSkills will definitely help my career.”

WorldSkills 2011 is held over four days at the ExCeL exhibition and conference centre in London's docklands from October 5-8. More than 150,000 visitors are expected to come and see the 1,000 competitors in action. Visit the website for details and free tickets.