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Oldham College Champion Named as a WorldSkills UK Hero 2023

Jo Manship, Oldham College

AN OLDHAM College champion dedicated to opening new skills opportunities for learners from every background has been crowned as a WorldSkills UK Hero.

Jo Manship was named as joint* Skills Competition Diversity Champion at the WorldSkills UK Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Heroes Awards 2023 today (February 23).

These awards honour people and organisations that promote and embed innovative practices, projects and initiatives that are having a positive impact on students, workplaces and the wider skills systems.

Jo, who has worked at Oldham College since 1999, is Head of Faculty for Digital & Creative and Performing Arts, and her work has been crucial in improving opportunities for people from underrepresented groups.

She leads on contributions to the Greater Manchester Competitions Strategy and is the cross-college lead for WorldSkills UK registration: monitoring and overseeing the EDI characteristics of all learners and apprentices through to the final competition stages.

Jo also leads Oldham College’s annual Skills Week which identifies the next generation of local talents. Earlier this month that saw 140 competitions taking place across all industry sectors which gave every learner the chance to shine – and the contests were praised by visiting employer judges, plus WorldSkills UK interim CEO Ben Blackledge, and Robert Halfon, Minister of State for Education.

Jo’s work has led Oldham College to entering its biggest-ever squads in national competitions – including winning their first-ever gold medals last year – and being asked to become part of the WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence.

Jessica Criswell, Oldham College’s Vice Principal for Curriculum Teaching and Learning, said: “It was an honour to present Jo with this hugely-deserved national award recognising her incredible contribution to improving opportunities and outcomes for all learners.”

“Jo works tirelessly with our staff and employers to raise aspirations and give every single student the chance to fulfil their potential, despite barriers they face or may have experienced. She has embedded a whole new philosophy into our day-to-day provision that consistently gets learners into the ‘performance zone’ to improve their skills and confidence, and – most importantly – their employability prospects.”

Jo Manship said: “It’s incredibly humbling to be recognised by your peers nationally, but this award is for all the Oldham College staff and learners that I work with, and I want to thank them all.”

“Our skills competitions have a ‘no opt out’ approach which means that literally every learner on every course here is involved. Our achievements would simply not have been possible without their shared commitment and determination that every single learner can get to the highest possible level, which we have already seen happen.”

Alun Francis, Oldham College Chief Executive and Principal, added: “This award confirms the transformational advances which Jo and many others are making at Oldham College.”

“Her work is at the heart of our mission to nurture local talent and open new doors to career opportunities for people from all socio-economic backgrounds. We could not be prouder of what Jo, her colleagues and students, are now achieving, and their efforts will have future benefits for local families and the economy.”

Each year, WorldSkills UK tasks young people across the nation with sharpening their vocational skills to compete in subject-specific national competitions that are modelled on real life, industry-based scenarios. Finalists get the opportunity to represent the UK at WorldSkills, known as the “Skills Olympics”, which is held every two years.

Learners and their families can find out more about our 16-18 offer and WorldSkills UK – plus adult learning opportunities, including Higher Education –, at the Oldham College Open Day on Saturday, March 25 (10am-1pm). To pre-register, visit

* David McKay of North West Regional College in Northern Ireland was the joint winner.

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