We have been working with colleges, training providers and employers throughout the West Midlands to provide support and opportunities for apprentices and students to continue training during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We are best known in the West Midlands for organising ‘WorldSkills UK LIVE’ at the NEC – the largest skills, apprenticeships and careers event in the UK which attracts over 70,000 visitors annually. This support is part of our response to Covid-19.

Earlier this year, we pledged our commitment to help power up a skills-led recovery and drive the rebuilding of the UK economy by supporting 200,000 young people throughout the UK. Nearly 300 apprentices and students in the West Midlands, from organisations including 3M, North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College and Nova Training registered to take part in this year’s virtual WorldSkills UK Competitions to enhance their current training.

To support all those taking part, we are delivering a series of webinars and online coaching sessions with our alumni, a group of inspirational young people who have previously trained with us and who are now excelling in their chosen careers. Young people from the region are participating in skills ranging from Digital Media Production to Automotive Technology and Health and Social Care. The competitions will enable those entering to develop their skillset and mindset to prepare for the technical and mental challenges that lie ahead, building their confidence and potential to help employers in the West Midlands lead the charge towards recovery and future economic growth.

Further, ten young people from the region are also training remotely with us to continue to prepare and vie for a place in Team UK, to compete against the best of the rest of the world for medals in the European and global skills competitions finals next year. EuroSkills will take place in Austria in January and WorldSkills, known as the ‘skills Olympics’, will take place in Shanghai, creating a platform to showcase internationally the world-class young talent that is being developed in the West Midlands. By continuing the training in skills including 3D Digital Game Art, Cyber Security and Construction Metal Work, we are helping the apprentices and students develop their skillset and mindset to the highest possible level, helping them achieve higher standards and fast track their careers.

Our Chief Executive Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE said: “The commitment from the young people in the West Midlands to continue with their training, despite the challenging circumstances, is fantastic and demonstrates the value that they are placing on getting the highest-quality apprenticeships and technical education.

“I believe that young women and men with the right skills-set and mindset will continue to succeed in the tough times ahead because they will have the competitive edge employers will be looking for. It is our responsibility to ensure we support more young people to develop the higher-level skills that will help them get the best start in work and life and drive forward the West Midlands’ productivity and economy.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “Our young people are our future and we need their contribution to rebuild our region’s economy in the longer term after the Covid-19 crisis, so it’s critical that we help them gain the skills that employers will need over the coming years.

“We are doing this through a number of initiatives, such as the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund, in which large employers use their unspent levy to fund apprenticeship training at local small and medium-sized enterprises.

“WorldSkills UK is a great opportunity for our most talented young people to showcase the best of the West Midlands, further develop their skillset and increase their confidence.”

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