As the principal of City College Plymouth and the South West's Regional Worldskills Champion, I am keen to spread the word about the value of WorldSkills UK Competitions to the individual, the employer and the training organisation.

For the competitor it is the opportunity to challenge their own level of skills against others on a regional, national and international level - and potentially, the experience of a lifetime.

For the employer it is the recognition of the company's highly-skilled workforce and the marketing opportunities that will follow.

For the training provider and college it provides a showcase for their students, raising standards and awareness of the benefits of vocational education.

However to make the WorldSkills UK Competitions a success support is needed from Colleges and Training Providers. If you are new to skills competitions, identify the strengths within your training offer through which to encourage competition entries. There is a cost to supporting students and competition expenses. But engendering a spirit and ethos of competition in your institution, will have long term benefits, as will celebrating successes within your college or training establishment. If you are already well-established as a 'competition' college, you could work with other organisations to spread the word and encourage participation. Worldskills UK produces an excellent range of resources and publicity materials which will help make this an easier task. Your existing employer networks could be a productive way of engaging employers. If you have an Employer newsletter or similar, use it to publicise the benefits of Worldskills competitions.

Those signing up to this year's WorldSkills UK competitions (closing date is 19th March) could be in with the chance of being selected for the team that represents the UK at WorldSkills London 2011. The South West has been hugely successful at past international skills competitions. At WorldSkills Calgary 2009, we had:

  • Oliver Clark, Stonemason, trained at Weymouth College and achieved a Medallion of Excellence
  • Linzi Weare, competing in Hair, trained at Royal Forest of Dean College and achieved a Medallion of Excellence;

We also had training manager Matt Bell, in Computer Aided Design, supporting the competitions. We will be looking to repeat their success at WorldSkills London 2011 when the international skills competition is held at ExCeL from 5th - 8th October 2011.

Last year, the South West also celebrated great success at the WorldSkills UK competitions. Students who achieved success were:

  • Gold Award – Stacey Shaw, City College Plymouth, Nail Technician
  • Silver Award – John Fisher, Royal Forest of Dean College, Hardware and Software Challenge
  • Silver Award – Samantha Slater, Truro College for Beauty Therapy Advanced
  • Silver Award – Emily Bray, Truro College for Holistic Therapy: Reflexology
  • Bronze Award – Stephen Morley, City of Bath College for Refrigeration
  • Bronze Award – Blake Fewster, Bridgwater College for SkillBuild: Cabinet Making
  • Bronze Award – Claire Hill, City College Plymouth for SkillBuild: Painting and Decorating
  • Bronze Award – Lucy Macey, City of Bristol College for Hairdressing Advanced
  • Bronze Award – Katie Maclellan, City of Bristol College for Hairdressing Intermediate

We are very proud of the students' level of achievement and of course, we hope to build on these achievements in 2010 and 2011.

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Alongside the big event - Worldskills London 2011, we first have Euroskills, with a new date for the competition of 9th - 12th December 2010. Of course, competitors who are entered for Euroskills as part of the UK Team may be also some of the ones on the international stage in London 2011.

Whilst autumn 2011 might seem a long way off, colleges and other organisations will need to start planning now if they wish to attend and see at first-hand the excitement, skill and spectacle that will be Worldskills 2011. Over the coming months, a lot more information will be forthcoming from the organisers about how colleges, training providers, employers and schools can become more engaged. I look forward to seeing you all at Worldskills London 2011!

Viv Gillespie is principal of City College Plymouth 

Given the wide geographical reach of the South West region, I am very glad that colleagues from the college sector have joined the South West network and would like to thank Janak Patel, principal of Royal Forest of Dean College, Sue Moore, principal at Weymouth College and Rachel Davies, principal of Somerset College, who already contribute so much to the Worldskills efforts. We will be working together to ensure that awareness of Worldskills competitions reaches from Gloucestershire to Bournemouth, and to Cornwall! 

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