From education to employment

Tees Valley hosts UK’s biggest skills competition

BRIGHT SPARK students and apprentices from across the country took over Teesside to go for gold in a prestigious skills competition that could help their careers take off.

Middlesbrough College was chosen as one of seven host destinations for WorldSkills UK’s National Skills Competition, which saw finalists compete in a host of disciplines including 3D Digital Game Art, Cyber Security, Digital Construction and Mechanical Engineering.

As well as boosting their skills and confidence, competitors who impressed under the pressure of a national final now have the chance to represent the UK at the ‘Skills Olympics’ in France in 2024.

Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive of Middlesbrough College Group, said:

“It was incredible to welcome more than 80 competitors from colleges, universities and private training providers across the country to our state-of-the-art campus in the heart of Middlesbrough.

“It was an honour to be chosen by WorldSkills UK as one of only a handful of hosts for its national finals, and represent the Tees Valley and wider North East on a national stage. 

“Once again, it demonstrates our commitment to promoting excellence and raising the aspirations of young people in our region and beyond. It’s also testament to our own skills provision, especially in sectors such as digital, construction and engineering.

“We’re training people at the cutting edge of technology and knowledge, and this competition brought together the very best up and coming talent in these sectors. We hope it has inspired our own students as well as the hundreds of young people from schools across the region who joined us.”

Alongside the drama of the competition, Middlesbrough College hosted its own events, providing careers advice and giving visitors the opportunity to talk to employers and industry experts from across the region.

The College’s Careers Exhibition took place over two days, with more than 40 interactive stands providing carers advice and an opportunity for visitors to ‘have a go’ and find out more about careers in a range of sectors.

More than 900 pupils visited the Exhibition, from primary and secondary schools in the Tees Valley across the two days, along with many of the College’s own students.

Also in attendance was John McCabe, chief executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce.

John said:

“This has been a fantastic opportunity to showcase the world-class facilities right here on the doorstep and it’s great WorldSkills UK chose Middlesbrough College as one of its host Colleges.

“We’ve got some phenomenal businesses across a multitude of sectors in the North East – from small businesses and start-ups to big employers who are exporting their products and services all over the world, employing thousands of people.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re providing young people from our region with the aspiration and the opportunity to develop their skills and carve out fantastic careers with those businesses. That’s how they continue to prosper and grow.”

Competitors won’t have to wait long to see how they’ve got on as the winners will be revealed in a special live medal ceremony show presented by Middlesbrough-born broadcaster Steph McGovern, from her Channel 4 Packed Lunch Studio on Friday, November 25.

Ben Blackledge, WorldSkills UK deputy CEO, said:

“We were delighted to be able to take our national finals on the road this year, with Middlesbrough College hosting finals in the types of skills that are going to be so crucial to the UK’s success as a high-skills, high-wage economy.

“We hope seeing the finals in person and getting involved with the activities at the college has inspired more young people to develop their skills and have a go at one of our competitions next year.

“WorldSkills UK competitions and development programmes equip apprentices and students with the world-class skills that will boost their career prospects and deliver for the UK.”

Designed by industry experts, WorldSkills UK competitions help young people grow personally and professionally by developing their technical and employability skills, as well as shining a light on the amazing skilled potential in the UK. The finals are the culmination of a seven-month process including regional heats and intensive training.

The competitions-based programme has a real impact on those taking part, with 90% of previous entrants saying competing help their career progression and 86% saying their personal and employability skills had improved.

Finals took place in Middlesbrough College’s unrivalled facilities including its multi-million-pound STEM Centre and its dazzling new Digital Centre. The state-of-the-art facility, which forms part of Middlesbrough College’s successful Government-approved bid to deliver pioneering new technical qualifications, T Levels, is home to industry-leading programming suites, cyber labs, video editing suites, a games design suite and a full TV and film studio.

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