From education to employment

UK Skills CEO reflects on Britain’s progress in Calgary 2009

As the 40th WorldSkills Competition drew to a close in Calgary, it felt like the noise from Stampede Park could be heard all over Calgary, so intense were the celebrations. For the 900 competitors, from 46 nations that took part it really was an experience of a lifetime.

As the competitors gathered in the arena, it was announced that Team UK had won an amazing three gold and six bronze medals in skills ranging from painting and decorating to floristry and auto body repair. In addition, the UK was also awarded 14 Medallions of Excellence given to competitors who achieve at least 500 points, deemed the World Class Standard.

Gold medal winner and Best of Nation (the top scorer) for the UK Mark Nevin, who works for Nevin of Edinburgh said: "This is the most fantastic feeling. To have competed against the best young Painters and Decorators in the world was an amazing experience in itself, but to win a gold medal and Best in Nation Award in the trade I love is just incredible: I really do feel on top of the world!"

Joining Mark and sharing her joy at being awarded a bronze medal for Beauty Therapy, Charlotte Burford, who is employed by Tranquility@Esporta Stafford and who attends South Staffordshire College said: "The last year has been absolutely brilliant. To have been given the chance to learn what I’m capable of, to train with some of the best in the industry and to be part of such a great team has been unbelievable. I can’t wait to bring home my medal to show to all my friends and family back in the UK."

The brilliant results achieved means the UK is now ranked 7th in the World. This positioning means we are ahead of Germany, which is in 11th place and France which is in 12th position. Following WorldSkills Calgary 2009, Korea is now in first place, closely followed by Switzerland in 2nd place and Ireland in 3rd position.

The UK has a good track record at the WorldSkills Competition, and was 11th in the World at the last event, held in Japan in 2007. During WorldSkills Shizouka 2007, Team UK won 1 gold, 1, silver, 2 bronze and 9 Medallions of Excellence. WorldSkills Helsinki 2005 saw the UK ranked 12th in the World. It is so encouraging to see the UK boost its medal haul and increase its World ranking.

We hope to build on this success as we move towards the next WorldSkills Competition, which London will be hosting in 2011, where we will be looking to do even better. And to achieve this, we must continue to work together to lift standards of training and performance, promoting world class skills and international competitiveness. Faced with continued economic uncertainty it is essential we don’t give up on training and keep encouraging new talent into the workplace. It’s competitions like WorldSkills that already are and can continue to help us to achieve this.

What Team UK has achieved in Calgary is outstanding, they have all worked so hard to get where they are and that has certainly paid off. It’s a tremendous result not just for the competitors, but for their employers, trainers and colleges. I send my heartfelt congratulations to the whole Team and look forward to welcoming them back in the UK.

Simon Bartley is chief executive of UK Skills, which champions learning through competitions and awards


Read other FE News articles by Simon Bartley:

UK Skills CEO tells FE News how skills competitions benefit education in the current climate

The UK’s unsung heroes

UK Squad undergoing tough training for Calgary 2009


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