Last week I had the great privilege to see the Euroskills 2018 Competition in Budapest. These national and international skills competitions are always very inspiring as you see first-hand the commitment and skill of these talented young people and the support they are given by their coaches and experts.

The result for Team UK was great with medals and medallions signifying that the performances were world class.

It is very clear what the benefits are for the competitors who hone their skills in their chosen professions, but the competition always makes me think about how every apprentice can benefit from these high-profile events.

This article sets out a few of the areas where the whole of the sector can use the experiences gained over many years in which WorldSkills UK has managed these events for the UK.

So here are just a couple of my lessons learned:

The UK competitors took part in a wide range of events including engineering, digital, professional services and hospitality. No one saw any one of these jobs as better or worse than any other. We didn’t have STEM skills and others.

It was great to see service sector jobs in the same competition structures as engineering. Of course, it was great that our gold medal winner was in beauty therapy. Every skill and every profession are as valuable as any other so let’s value the jobs that people do in the service sector.

On my way to Budapest I passed through Austria and we stayed in a hotel where there were some apprentices. The employers and the young people saw this as a really important career choice and key to the future.

Even though every profession is different, WorldSkills has created a structured framework for every skill covered in the competitions.

Lessons for the Institute for Apprenticeships

The IfA can take some lessons from this as they try to create a structure for all the disparate Standards that are being created. I am all for flexibility, but I know most employers, End Point Assessment organisations and providers would welcome some overall structure to the way jobs are classified and the format of the Standards.

I know WorldSkills UK, as the WorldSkills representative in this country, would be happy to work more closely with the IfA going forward.

The CEO of the IfA was at the EuroSkills Competition and encouraged employers to get involved but he and they could set an example by aligning the Standards to the WorldSkills Standards.

Lessons for Training Providers and End-Point Assessment Organisations

Providers and EPAOs could also learn a lot of lessons from WorldSkills UK Competitions because they have a long history of creating and developing end-point testing.

These involve a detailed scoring system that enables comparisons both within and between skills. Getting involved in the skills competitions at a national or international level will enable organisations to see how skill assessments can be done effectively and will show how apprentices can be better prepared to take those tests.

There is a lot of experience within WorldSkills UK who are developing products and services that can use that knowledge for the benefit of all providers, employers and most importantly apprentices.

Inspiring

So apart from being inspired by the performance of these young people out in Budapest there are a lot of lessons to be learned for the UK apprenticeship system. It will be a shame if we don’t take this opportunity.

I know that Mark Dawe, CEO at AELP has already set up a group to involve more ITPs in skills competitions.

It would be great if more training providers got involved, especially as lots of employers are seeing this as a way of supporting their own skill development.

Many of the biggest companies in the world supported Team UK at EuroSkills and will be supporting the WorldSkills UK LIVE event which takes place from 15 – 17 November at the NEC in Birmingham.

That is an important way of engaging more employers and being seen to be leading the way on international skills development.

Congratulations to WorldSkills UK for developing and training Team UK, to all those who supported the competitors but most of all to the young people that really did us proud.

Let’s hope we can use that inspiration to improve the quality of delivery for every apprentice.

Stewart Segal, WorldSkills UK Board Member

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