Above my desk is a countdown clock reminding me of the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks and years to the first day of competition at WorldSkills London 2011 on 6 October 2011.

However, ticking away at the back of my mind is another clock shouting at me that we have just six months to go till our last chance to check on our progress ahead of 2011.

WorldSkills Calgary 2009, the last WorldSkills Competition before London, kicks off on 1 September and I’m pleased to say that we are well on track to fielding a strong team in Canada.

At the beginning of February I had the pleasure and the privilege of announcing the names of the 60 young people selected to be part of Squad UK.

Squad UK was announced at an event held, appropriately, at Canada House in Trafalgar Square and exactly seven months from the second day of competition at WorldSkills Calgary 2009.

I was greatly encouraged to see that despite the wintry conditions, over 60 people attended including several Squad UK members and their families and supporters.

As well as hearing who had made Squad UK, the guests also had the privilege to listen to a panel discussion focussing on the need to create a culture in which world class skills are embedded in the workforce and how skills competitions can play a strategically important role in this change process.

The growing groundswell of support for WorldSkills was reflected in the high calibre of the panellists:

  • Frances O’Grady (Deputy General Secretary, TUC)

  • Stephen Price, (Senior Policy Manager – Apprenticeships, LSC)

  • Andy Powell, who is the Chief Executive of the educational foundation Edge, the official supporter of Squad UK and Team UK

  • Vicki Fagg, WorldSkills UK Regional Champion, (Principal, College of North West London)

  • Chris Humphries CBE (Chairman, UK Skills)

While the audience had braved the weather to be there, the members of Squad UK had all had already had a much tougher journey!

All of them had already proved themselves by their outstanding performances at WorldSkills UK regional and national competitions followed by having taken part in a three day selection competition to prove that they were of a high enough standard to be selected for Squad UK.

And the hard work has only just begun. Each squad member has had an individualised training programme devised by their Training Manager and they will also attend Squad UK training events at Brathay, a people development organisation based in the Lake District which supports the development of Squad UK and Team UK for WorldSkills Competitions.

Then in June they have to do it all over again at a four day team selection event; this the competition which will be even more pressurised than the squad selection event and it is their last chance to prove themselves worthy of a place in Team UK.

However, in the meantime, here are the 60 young people who have proved themselves of high enough standard to train as part of Squad UK:

 

SKILL CATEGORY

NAME

AGE

HOME TOWN

EMPLOYER/ COLLEGE

Autobody Repair

Daniel Cain

21

Grimsby

Just Car Clinics

Automotive Technology

Paul Abbey

20

Gattonside

Gattonside Garage

Automotive Technology

Dean Jones

20

Swansea

Mercedes-Benz of Swansea

Beauty Therapy

Elouise Mayor

19

Lancaster

Naomi Waite Nail & Beauty Studio / Preston College

Beauty Therapy

Charlotte Ann Burford

21

Stafford

Tranquility @ Esporta Stafford / Cannock Chase Technical College

Bricklaying

Jason Stanley

19

Ashbourne

KJ & J Stanley

Bricklaying

Sam Fairgrieve

20

Leicester

Jelson Holmes Ltd

Bricklaying

Tom Coppock

22

Oxford

Self employed

Bricklaying

Adam Metcalf

21

Hull

Hobson & Porter

Cabinet Making

Liam Gardner

21

Gilling West

Phillip Bastow Cabinet Makers

Cabinet Making

Luke Griffiths

21

Chichester

Cimitree Furniture

Car Painting

Zak McLaughlan

19

Denham

Solus Norwich Union

Car Painting

Ben Eaton

19

Sheffield

Sytner Sheffield

Carpentry

Gareth Evans

21

Llanelli

Self employed

Carpentry

Cliff Williams

21

Talley

Self-employed

CNC Milling

Elliot New

19

Stoke-on-Trent

Bentley Motors / South Cheshire College

CNC Milling

Christopher Coates

20

Wilmslow

Bentley Motors

CNC Turning

Fraser McLean

18

Paisley

Rolls Royce

Confectionery

Alistair Birt

20

Uxbridge

Tummies Bistro, Burnham/ Thames Valley University

Cooking

Oli Lloyd

17

Sevenoaks

Claridges Hotel/ Bournemouth & Poole College

Cooking

Chris Kenny

20

Haskayne

Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons

Cooking

Adam Smith

21

Birmingham

The Ritz Hotel

Electrical Installation

Neil Frew

21

Ballymena

Braid Electrical Services

Electrical Installation

Richard Sagar

21

Langholm

Eden Electrics

Fashion Technology

Sophie Willett

21

Newcastle-under-Lyme

Vivienne Westwood / UAL Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design

Fashion Technology

Katie-Ann Eardley

21

Wigan

Karen Millen / University of Huddersfield

Floristry

Joseph Massie

21

Liverpool

Fishlocks Florist

Floristry

Lauren Curry

20

Christchurch

Sarah Ann Florists/ Bournemouth & Pool College

Hairdressing

Jenna Smillie

19

Dairy Ayrshire

SM Hairdesign

Hairdressing

Linzi Weare

19

Berry Hill, near Coleford

Reds Hair Company

Hairdressing

Lois Elizabeth Tippin

18

Milkwall, near Coleford

Cutting Edge

Industrial Electronics

Melanie Adlam

21

St Albans

MBDA UK / University of Bristol

Industrial Electronics

Andrew Fielding

18

Bolton

MBDA UK / Wigan & Leigh College

IT PC Network Support

Hugo Landau

18

St Albans

Barnfield College

IT PC Network Support

Robert Kelly

21

Leeds

Complete Computer Systems Ltd / Leeds College of Technology

Jewellery

Adam John Claridge

20

Robertsbridge

Spectrum Fine Jewellery

Jewellery

Ryan Nelson

21

Chigwell

David Lawes

Joinery

Trevor Woods

20

Co Fermanagh

McAleer & Teague / Omagh College (CITB)

Joinery

Neil Macartney

20

Harrow

Haymills

Joinery

Richard Ellwood

20

Broughton-in-Furness

Self Employed - Ellwood Joinery

Joinery

Beau Hewlett

20

Oxford

Bryan Gelder Joinery

Joinery

Adam Bushnell

18

Oxford

Rosewood Joinery/ Oxford & Cherwell Valley College CITB

Landscape Gardening

Grant Finch

17

Scarborough

Scarborough Council - Parks & Countryside

Landscape Gardening

Simon Ginger

20

Theberton

Otley College

Landscape Gardening

William Gadd

21

Thurston

The Country Life Landscapes / Otley College

Landscape Gardening

Joshua Kitchen

19

Tockington

Janes Pond Landscaping Ltd / Hartpury College

Landscape Gardening

Luke Denby

18

Skipton

Roderick French Groundworks / Craven College

ME CADD

William Darvill

19

Clevedon

Bournemouth University

ME CADD

Martin Eusebi

21

Glasgow

MB Aerospace Limited, Roberts Products Division / Motherwell College

Painting & Decorating

Mark Nevin

21

Edinburgh

Nevin of Edinburgh

Painting & Decorating

Heather Adgie

20

Leeds

Bellgroup UK / Leeds College of Building

Plumbing

Christopher Lonsdale

21

Bishop, Auckland

 

Restaurant Service

Katie Watson

20

Hamilton

Gleneagles Hotel

Stonemasonry

Nathan Smith

19

Swanage/ Portland

Stone Firms Ltd

Stonemasonry

Oliver Clack

20

Portsmouth

Cathedral Works Organisation / Weymouth College

Stonemasonry

Marc Pate

22

Bristol

Wells Cathedral Stonemasons Ltd

Web Design

Richard Edwards

19

Milton Keynes

Ted Baker / Milton Keynes College

Welding

Andrew Johnston

21

Addiewell

Doosan Babcock

Welding

Harry Klein

20

Sunderland

Liebherr Sunderland Works

Welding

Jack Heaton

20

Henningbrough

Doosan Babcock

 

Simon Bartley, chief executive of UK Skills

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