We launched our response to COVID-19 in April, setting out how we would adapt to continue our drive to mainstream excellence in skills systems across the UK. 

We have made excellent progress on our five-point plan since we last updated you in July, and as we all continue to face challenges as a result of the pandemic, we are determined to inspire and develop even more young people to take up technical career routes and apprenticeships.  This is because we know that highly skilled, motivated young people will be crucial to the economic recovery of the UK.

This is what we set out in our five-point plan and what we have achieved to date:

Refocus WorldSkills UK LIVE – the UK’s largest skills and careers event – to bring together employers, education, young people and parents – to provide more careers advice, workshops, masterclasses and hands-on support to equip over 70,000 attendees to plan for the future and develop more digital outreach so more young people from across the UK can benefit.

In September, we launched WorldSkills UK LIVE online, our brand-new digital offering. This exciting programme of activity includes; our Diversity and Inclusion Heroes Awards which we are running in partnership with Coca-Cola European Partners, our International Skills Summit and Spotlight Talks on Careers, Apprenticeships and Excellence in partnership with BAE Systems.

Our Diversity and Inclusion Awards, which are now open for entry, honour individuals who are championing diversity and inclusion within their organisations and the wider technical education sector.  The winners will be celebrated in a glittering virtual ceremony in January. 

Taking place from 11–12 November, our International Skills Summit will bring together leaders in industry and education to explore how global standards of excellence can be mainstreamed in skills policy and practice across the UK to engage young people in apprenticeships and technical education.

Recreating a favourite from WorldSkills UK LIVE, which is postponed until 2021, the Spotlight Talks will take place from 26-28 November.  It will feature inspirational speakers including Nadiya Hussain from The Great British Bake Off and the UK’s leading employers, apprentices and careers advisers to inspire and support young people to confidently take the next step on their career ladder.

Work with partners to deliver online assessment to help students and apprentices compete virtually in our skills competitions to ensure they don’t miss out on the opportunity to enhance their current training with skills set and mindset development in national and international programmes. Some 3,000 apprentices and students are likely to be supported in this way over the coming months.

Working with our Competition Organising Partners, we have and continue to deliver virtual skill specific masterclasses which will reach over 3,000 participants.  In addition, our Skills Champions also delivered a webinar on ‘Employability and Wellness’ in partnership with Youth Employment and we will be partnering with The Princes Trust to deliver a webinar on ‘Entrepreneurship’ later in October.  To support this activity, we published a digital resources pack which included information and resources to help the young people we work with find more advice on employability skills, apprenticeships, training opportunities and mental health support.  

We announced the team for EuroSkills Graz, in September, and whilst the event has since been postponed indefinitely due to the challenges presented by Covid-19, we are continuing to work with our competitors and training team as we look ahead to WorldSkills Shanghai.  Our continued participation in international competitions plays a vital role in helping mainstream excellence into the UK’s skills systems.   

Support schools and colleges across the country with online careers toolkits to help teachers better advise young people about the benefits of choosing high quality skilled career routes – aiming to engage some 35,000 students.

We have continued to update and expand our Careers Advice Toolkit.  Working in partnership with the Gatsby Foundation we are producing a module on higher level apprenticeships, as we help young people develop their skill set and mindset to the highest possible levels.  We will also shortly be producing a module on Traineeships to help young people understand how they can use the programme to prepare for an apprenticeship and employment.

Deploy more online careers advice role models – our alumni network of highly skilled individuals, who have achieved success in their careers, will share their experience of work right now with 3,000 young people to inspire the next generation.

Working with our network of over 300 past competitors,  we continue to share their inspirational career stories including the challenges that they have overcome during the lockdown.  These include our Squad UK member Adam Purvis who is part of team focusing on developing vaccines and potential treatments for symptoms of coronavirus and former competitor Ben Murphy who began delivering his gourmet meals direct to customers’ homes when his award-winning restaurant temporarily closed. 

Building on the popular Teach Tom series, we will next partner with Toyota to introduce young people to a career working in mechatronics.  This will include an introduction to the engineering discipline, the skills needed and a tour of the Toyota plant.  We will also hear from our competitors who work at the plant and learn more about their apprenticeship.   

Drive forward the ‘WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence’, a major new initiative with our partner NCFE to give access and insights into elite, world-class training methods to help some 40,000 young people across three years including those from disadvantaged backgrounds get the best possible quality training available to set them up for life

We have announced the 20 FE Colleges who will be part of the first year of the WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence.  A further 35 colleges from across the UK have been invited to join the new WorldSkills UK Innovation Network and will have access to international best practice and benchmarking to drive up standards and embed curriculum innovation with the opportunity to access further development support from the Centre of Excellence in year two and three of the pilot. 

Later this year, we will be launching a video and resource library, ‘Developing Skills Excellence’ which will feature industry experts from the UK and internationally.  Covering a range of curriculum areas, the resources will provide insight into transferring global best practice into a range of curriculum areas to drive up standards.

A quarter of all FE Colleges applied to be part of the first year of the Centre of Excellence, demonstrating real appetite in the sector to drive excellence in technical education.  Over the next three years we aim to empower a whole new cadre of teachers, from 160 colleges and independent training providers, who will help some 40,000 young people, from a range of backgrounds, reach standards of excellence.


As our economic landscape looks set to change, mainstreaming excellence should be the long-term goal for our skills systems. This is why we are committed to supporting the ambitions of the UK Secretary of State for Education and governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to raise standards in apprenticeships and technical education.

We are determined to support over 180,000 young people across the UK through our new activities. By doing so we can help to tackle vocational snobbery head-on so more young people and their parents see apprenticeships and technical education as a route to a better start in work and life.

We will provide a further update on our plans in January.

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