It was announced today (27 February 2020) that WorldSkills UK is launching the WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence, with the aim of mainstreaming excellence in skills development across the UK. The Centre is being partnered and funded by education and skills charity NCFE.

The three-year pilot project, which rolls out in September, will impact more than 160 educational institutions and nearly 1,000 educators, reaching more than 40,000 young people.

The Centre of Excellence, the first of its kind to be launched in the UK, will draw on WorldSkills UK’s unique insights into global skills systems and utilise NCFE’s expertise in curriculum development to mainstream excellence in skills development.

The programme was developed following research conducted by SKOPE, part of The University of Oxford and WorldSkills UK, which concluded that through its network of Training Managers and access to international best practise, WorldSkills UK is uniquely positioned to inform UK skills systems.

The programme will cover three strands: train the trainer modules; real time harnessing of international industry best practice through current preparation for WorldSkills Shanghai 2021; and influencing setters of training standards.

The effectiveness of the programme will be tested using different methods of dissemination, measuring impact on learners, educators and institutions in order to continually develop and innovate. This level of insight will help the organisations to develop a programme which will over time, give more young people, irrespective of background, better work and life opportunities and help boost economic productivity.

It is hoped that in time this will be the foundation of a roll-out to hundreds of colleges and other places of learning across the UK.

Dr. Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE, CEO of WorldSkills UK, said: “There is no time to lose if the United Kingdom is to flourish economically and better compete globally – and giving more young people a world-class skills boost is part of the answer.

“Mainstreaming excellence in training standards and delivering it directly to tens of thousands of young people at their places of learning is key to levelling up the economy.

“We are uniquely placed to undertake such a project – utilising over 65 years of international benchmarking experience, having mentored and trained thousands of young people to world-class standards, in dozens of technical disciplines in elite international competition.

“We know just how high the global industry standards are set and we know what it takes in training techniques to achieve them. Now in partnership with NCFE and key colleges and training providers, together we are perfectly placed to transfer our global know-how by creating a cohort of world-class educators to help ensure more and more young people across the UK – and the economy as a whole get to benefit.”

As part of its remit as the programme’s lead partner, NCFE will provide strategic advice, resources and funding to the project throughout its pilot phase.

David Gallagher, Chief Executive of NCFE said: “The development of skills is a crucial aspect of enabling young people to reach their full potential. High quality learning experiences builds confidence, self-esteem and enables people to be the best they can be. Central to great learning experiences are great educators, and for the UK to be competitive on a global scale, we know that we need more truly world-class educators in our technical education and skills system.

“As two organisations with a common purpose for the promotion and advancement of learning and a shared vision for a world-class skills system, we are delighted to be working together with WorldSkills UK to invest in the development of world class technical educators. The combination of our 170 years of expertise in learning, with the hands-on knowledge of WorldSkills UK’s Training Managers, is a perfect fit which will benefit the sector and learners for years to come.”

Ben Blackledge, Deputy CEO, WorldSkills UK who will lead this project said: “Key to the success of this partnership endeavour, will be the WorldSkills UK Training Managers, who have the track record of training the medal-winning teams of apprentices and students who represent the UK at WorldSkills, known as the ‘skills Olympics’.

“The Training Managers – who are internationally-recognised masters of their trades – will ‘train the trainers’, passing on their knowledge and insight to those working in educational institutions and help create digital masterclasses so we can reach more educators and therefore more young people, including in disadvantaged communities.”

The three-year sponsorship deal is the single largest investment ever made by NCFE, which also includes NCFE Awarding, CACHE Awarding, end-point assessment organisation – EPA Plus, e-learning and diagnostics business – Skills Forward, and peer-to-peer mentoring app – Peer Tutor.

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