Simon Bartley is chief executive of UK Skills

Hot on the heels of Team UK’s success at WorldSkills Calgary 2009, UK Skills has launched this year’s series of WorldSkills UK competitions.

The UK’s premier set of skills competitions, they run every year in around 70 skills and are open to young people and adults who have gained, or are working towards vocational skills.

Anyone of any age can enter the WorldSkills UK Competitions, but it doesn’t stop there. If you were born on or after 1st January 1989, and enter this year, you could be in with the chance of representing the UK at the skills equivalent of the Olympics – WorldSkills, when it is held in London between 5th - 8th October 2011.

For competitors looking to enter Mechantronics, Aeronautical Engineering and Engineering Challenge at WorldSkills London 2011, they must be born on or after 1st January 1986. The WorldSkills Competition, which is the biggest international skills competition in the world, takes place every two years. This year is the last chance for people to get involved for WorldSkills London 2011 as competitors invited to compete in UK finals held before 5th July 2010 may have a chance of being selected for inclusion in a shortlist for the international competition.

At UK Skills we believe that skills competitions offer significant benefits to all those who enter and support them. This is reinforced in the government’s skills agenda and supported by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ strategy to survive the recession and achieve world-class standing in employment, productivity and skills in the years ahead. WorldSkills UK Competitions continue to play a key part in lifting standards of training and performance while promoting world class skills.

When asked about the advantages of being involved with skills competitions, many highlighted that it has helped trainers to raise their teaching standards by allowing them to differentiate their training provision. What’s more, it provides the opportunity to showcase competitors’ achievements and for the competitors themselves it offers the chance to improve personal development, boosting their self esteem and motivation.

Vicki Fagg, Principal, College of North West London and WorldSkills UK Champion adds: "Competitions can engage, inspire and stretch students to excel in their chosen skills. Competitions enhance the learning experience for everyone and our students, their employers and the College have enjoyed the great benefits from exposure to high national standards which competing and winning at national competition can bring."

This feeling is echoed by Oliver Clack, who is employed by Cathedral Work. He represented the UK at WorldSkills Calgary 2009 in Stonemasonry. On taking part in the competition, Oliver said: "It is an honour to be among the top in the UK. The thought of it makes me so proud of myself."

Now more than ever, skilled industries are crucial to the future success of our economy. Entering skills competitions really does have a tremendous effect on competitors, their employers and their colleges. The benefits to all involved are immense as Vikki Fagg from the College of North West London highlighted. We really want to see more people entering competitions to prove to the whole of the UK just how many talented people we have in this country and in 2011 we want to be able to shout to the whole of the world how talented we are.

To enter the 2009/10 WorldSkills UK competitions, please enter on line at Here you will find a comprehensive list of all competitions and those that lead to WorldSkills London 2011. If you know anyone who has what it takes to become the best in their industry, then please encourage them to get involved.

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 reflects on Britain's progress in Calgary 2009

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

The UK's unsung heroes

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