From education to employment

Team UK Goes For Global Glory

Kaiya Swain

Sussex Downs College Beauty Therapy alumna Kaiya Swain to represent the UK in the WorldSkills finals in Abu Dhabi 

Kaiya Swain, 22, from Eastbourne, joins the nation’s elite young skilled women and men selected to go for gold against the rest of the World – in a litmus test for the future of our economy.

Successful super-talented Team UK members have beaten off the challenge from thousands of fellow and former apprentices and students to represent the UK at the WorldSkills Finals in Abu Dhabi this October (14 – 19).

Kaiya, a former Sussex Downs College student, was entered into the WorldSkills competition through the College.

Kaiya says: “I started this journey by competing in the college heats, Regionals and National Finals, which culminated in competing for one of the top two places in the country.”

Kaiya achieved her goal of reaching the final two in 2016, competing against a student based at in Glasgow. The two-year (or more) process has seen Kaiya win regional heats, a national final, European finals and last month jump the final hurdle reaching the most testing international standards at a team selection showdown.

Talking about the competition, Kaiya says: “This competition has bettered me as a therapist, making me more employable and also setting me a bar above the standard therapist. I believe that through hard work and determination there is nothing that you can’t achieve in the beauty industry.”

Alongside training for the competition, Kaiya runs her own Beauty business, ‘Kaiya Rose Beauty’, and works at the Ashdown Park Spa part-time. She also comes back to Sussex Downs College to train and mentor current students competing in the regional heats for UKSkills. The hard work and determination has paid off for Kaiya. Visiting the College in December 2016, Kaiya told students about the support from staff and the opportunities that can arise from the course.

Staff from the College couldn’t be more pleased for Kaiya.
Linda Collison, Programme Manager for Hair, Beauty and Complementary Therapies, praised the Beauty Therapy Alumni, saying: “Kaiya is a deserved winner of this place in Abu Dhabi. She lived and breathed the competition; I even heard she trained on Christmas Day. She has been so dedicated and we immensely proud of her achievement.”

Mike Hopkins, Principal and Chief Executive of Sussex Downs College, adds, “A massive congratulations to Kaiya for being selected to represent the UK in Beauty Therapy. The competition is intense and long, but with the support of Linda and her team here at the College – combined with Kaiya’s incredible talent– we are pleased to say that one of our former students is going global! This is a huge accolade for the College and testament to the quality of teaching here. Kaiya’s interaction and support of current Beauty Therapy students is truly inspiring.”

Kaiya gave advice to current students saying: “Focus, work hard and get as much out of your training as you can. Excel in all areas and prove your commitment and dedication. I would recommend getting a Saturday job or volunteer in a local salon. This will start to build your communication skills and confidence which are crucial skills needed in this industry. Take full advantage of everything your college and lecturers have to offer.”

Kaiya received a number of awards during her time at Sussex Downs College, including Student of the Year two years running, Certificate of Excellence and First place at the UK Skills regionals 2014.

Kaiya is now one of 32 talented skilled professionals who will undergo a rigorous regime of Olympic style training in preparation for the most intense week of competition imaginable.

Skills represented, range from Aircraft Maintenance and Mechanical Engineering through to Restaurant Service and Beauty Therapy.

WorldSkills UK, which helps young people ‘Go Further, Faster’, is spearheading the use of competition in the workplace, training centres, schools and colleges to inspire the next generation and fill the skills gap.

CEO Dr Neil Bentley said: “This is a critical moment for the future of these inspirational young people – and our economy.

“The WorldSkills Finals in Abu Dhabi are more important than international sporting fixtures spurring on competitors to achieve the highest international standards to inspire more and more young people to get into apprenticeships and technical careers, getting them off to the best start in work and life.

“Our ability to produce the right number of skilled, motivated, young people is vital for productivity, competitiveness and economic growth.  Skills top the agenda of so many organisations – Governments across the UK and the CBI through to the Trade Unions and education sector.

“Team UK represents the very future success of our economy and what they represent will help determine whether we thrive or fail post Brexit.”

WorldSkills UK, funded and supported by the DfE, devolved governments and commercial partners, utilises revolutionary training techniques usually associated with elite sporting teams, athletes and competitors.

Performance coaches and skills experts spend hundreds of hours honing their skills and drawing upon physical, mental and holistic methodology to produce optimum achievement under the most testing ‘pressure cooker’ conditions.

“We ensure that Team UK members have the skills-set and the right mind-set required to be the best and have the confidence, focus and determination to prove it”.” Said Dr. Bentley.

WorldSkills Finals are held every two years when over a thousand competitors from more than seventy countries gather for four days of competition.

This year’s final is seen as an important litmus test as to how well the UK will fare post Brexit with the rest of the World. Homegrown skills will become ever more important as industry seeks to reduce reliance on workers from the EU.

In 2015 at the most recent WorldSkills Finals, held in Såo Paulo, Team UK finished overall seventh in the medal table, ahead of France and Germany – bringing home an impressive haul of medals including three gold, four silver, two bronze and twenty three medallions of excellence.

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