From education to employment

Congratulations to Squad UK

The world’s greatest names in sport may be taking centre stage at the Olympics this month, but today we have the honour of announcing the names of the UK’s most talented young skills stars who have earned a place in Squad UK for WorldSkills Leipzig 2013.

If you were one of the many thousands of visitors who attended WorldSkills London 2011 last October, it may come as a surprise that we are already preparing for the next international competition which will take place in Leipzig, Germany from 2 – 7 July, next year.  However competing on the international stage is no easy feat and our competitors will prepare to take on the very best from across the world, undergoing a specialised training programme, including competing at the EuroSkills Competition in October, supported by a dedicated Training Manager for each skill.   The competitors will compete for coveted places in Team UK at further selection events which will be held throughout the UK in March 2013.   Team UK will then carry on training intensively before heading to WorldSkills Leipzig in July 2013.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the WorldSkills Competition, it is the biggest international skills competition in the world.  Held every two years in one of its 61 member countries / regions, the competition sees around 1000 young people aged 18 – 23 from across the world come together to compete for medals in more than 40 different skills including Electrical Installation, Mobile Robotics, Web Design, Cooking and Landscape Gardening.  The UK is currently 5th in the WorldSkills ranking after Team UK won 5 gold, 2 Silver, 6 Bronze and 12 Medallions of Excellence at WorldSkills London 2011.

The members of Squad UK were chosen from among the UK’s most talented apprentices, employees and learners after they completed in tough three-day selection events held throughout the UK.

With many of the selection events taking place at Stephenson College, Leicestershire and North Warwickshire and Hinckley College, I wanted to take this opportunity, on behalf of the National Apprenticeship Service, to express my sincere thanks to the Colleges.  I also want to extend my thanks to the many colleges throughout the UK who allow their staff to volunteer as Training Managers for Squad and Team UK.  Their support is invaluable and without all of the volunteers we would not be able to hope to replicate the success of WorldSkills London 2011, where we had our largest ever medal haul.

The National Apprenticeship Service manages the UK’s entry into the WorldSkills Competition under the name of WorldSkills UK.  Many of the competitors who were invited to compete in the Squad UK Selections were selected after excelling at the WorldSkills UK National Competitions.  Managed by the National Apprenticeship Service together with partners from FE and industry, WorldSkills UK Competitions reward real talent and drive up levels of expertise in further education, skills and Apprenticeships.

By taking part in competitions on a national and international level, we are able to showcase the high levels of performance that can be achieved by individuals and organisations through high quality training.  We believe this provides the inspiration for young people and adults to be ambitious in their pursuit of skills to the highest level.

It is not only the competitors that benefit hugely from their WorldSkills experience.  When I talk to the FE Staff who take on the role of a Training Manager they tell me how important it is for them to be able to take back their College the increased skill knowledge they gain from working with colleagues from all over the world. Employers of Squad and Team UK also talk about the increased skills gained by their staff which in some cases has led to the organisations being able to expand and take on new business.

If you haven’t seen a Skills competition take place, I would encourage you all to visit The Skills Show taking place from 15 – 17 November at the NEC Birmingham.  Here many of the WorldSkills UK National Finals will take place and those competitors could be in with chance of representing the UK at future WorldSkills Competitions.

Jaine Bolton is director of the National Apprenticeship Service

Further members of Squad UK will be announced following a second phase of selection in September. For the list of Squad UK members announced today visit http://worldskillsuk.apprenticeships.org.uk/squaduk


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