The WorldSkills competitions certainly need more publicity in the UK. Before I went to Kazan, the members of my Livery Company (the Plaisterers) knew about it as we have been supporting WorldSkills for some time. Some of the 110 other Livery Companies know about it as they support their respective skills in the competition or at Colleges. However outside of that there is no real visibility.
Why does it need to be known? So that we can celebrate the talent of the young people and appreciate the training and professionalism in the system that produces 37 excellent young people from the UK on the world stage but also to recognise and trumpet the educational system that provides regular daily training and skills to every new generation of young people ready to learn. We need to be proud of the work of the colleges and trainers and the businesses who invest in these young people.
Whilst that system is not perfect we need to learn from the competitions and the liaison with other nations so that we can improve the training and lift the skills and ensure that our training can create the future workforce that we will need. It is that training culture that is so important and not just the wining of medals that should be the key to the UK’s engagement with an integrated training and accreditation system.
This was my first real visit to the international competition. I had spent a day at the London event in ExCel in 2011 and was amazed at the range of the skills on display but a full visit over the 5 days really shows the struggle and pain of competition and the exhilaration of achievement. The length of my stay meant that I could join the programme provided by the WorldSkills UK team and that I was able to discuss issues and hear from other countries, from team managers and experts and the team leaders (who oversee pastoral matters). I think it was clear that there is dilemma in wanting to do well at competition and winning medals to look and feel good on the international stage and the importance of up-skilling everyone and ensuring that we have the trained individuals needed to meet the demands of this country and its Industrial Strategy.
That is a message that I would like to broadcast loud and clear. That we need to value the skills of these young people and to assist them in being able to learn and start their careers. The competitions are an important showcase but the day to day work and commitment is the story I will bring back to the Livery Companies, to the businesses and to Government.