Britain's team of 22 highly talented youngsters bagged 4 medals and 9 medallions yesterday for excellent performance against its 49 global contesters at this year's WorldSkills, the biggest skills based competition, held in Japan.

In a gruelling 4 day challenge, amidst 200,000 supporters, Gary Tuddenham brought home Gold for Cabinet-Making while Harry Smith got Silver for Graphic Designing. Both Simon Noble and Jonathan Lloyd won Bronze in Auto-body Repairing and Car Painting categories respectively.

Due to the team's brilliant performance in 21 skill categories, the UK now ranks 11th in the world and 4th in Europe, an overall improvement by one place in the team league table from year 2005.

Secretary of the state, John Denham said that the team's success, an epitome of Britain's world-class skills, helped remove snobbery around work-based training. He also indicated that he is expectant of better results from the UK in the coming Skills Olympics in Canada (2009) and London (2011).

Skills minister, David Lammy commented, "Each team member is entitled to be very proud of what they have achieved."

Congratulating the winners and their trainers, Chris Humphries, Chairman of UK Skills and newly appointed chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills stressed the importance of skills to UK businesses and economy. He explained: "WorldSkills provides the ultimate benchmark of a nation's young people, and the education and training we provide them"Speaking highly of the team, Simon Bartley, Chief Executive of UK Skills, who coordinates the UK participation in WorldSkills, commented, "They have ensured that the UK is well on its way to being World class by 2020."

Talking about the country's failure to secure any medal in the construction category, Lawrence Miles, CEO if the Independent Verifiers and Assessors expresses his concern over the Government strategy of training the future of the construction industry, he pointed out, "It all boils down to wrong people in a wrong trade. Most school drop- outs opt for this profession. Besides, the school-leaving age has been raised to 16. Youngsters leaving school have no prior work-experience. Due to dearth of jobs, even university graduates are forced into this industry. Lack of enthusiasmand high expectations can undermine the work's quality." Hopefully the alternate curriculum for 14-19 year olds will provide us with a new clutch of experienced and motivated Construction specialists for the next "Skills Olympics" in two years time in Canada.

Aidan Relf from the Association of Learning Providers is more optimistic about the future of British construction industry. He said: "We will identifyprospective candidates and train them up."

Addressing the worrying gap between the male and female participation in the competition, he added "Quality of advice and information enforce genderstereotyping. A new legislation in England should rectify this issue."

Rob Wye, Director, Strategy and Communications Group and The Learning Group said that the performance should inspire youngsters to develop their talents for personal and professional gains.

The team will now spend time in Shanghai reviewing on how the competition went before returning home.

Rinku Chatterjee

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