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Update on WorldSkills UK COVID-19 action plan

Friday, 17 Jul 2020

In April, we launched our five-point action plan in response to COVID-19, setting out how we would continue to support young people with careers advice and skills development during lockdown.

Since then we have seen significant changes for our economy and education system. We have heard recently from the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the UK Secretary of State for Education about the importance of young people and skills to the UK’s economic recovery. And WorldSkills UK is now more than ever committed to support the UK government’s ambitious plans.

Throughout the year we want to keep you updated with our progress as our plans evolve to meet the changing challenges across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So this is what we’ve achieved in the past three months April-June, and what we have planned for the rest of 2020-21.

What we said we’d do:

  1. 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.

    The safety of WorldSkills UK LIVE attendees is, and always will be, our number 1 priority. Given ongoing uncertainty with COVID-19, and after consultation with partners, we’ve taken the decision to postpone WorldSkills UK LIVE from this year until 18- 20th November 2021, when we’ll return to the NEC stronger than ever. Further, after consultation with partners and in light of the ongoing uncertainty, we will not be running our national competition cycle in 2020 including the national final due to safety concerns.

    However, we remain committed to reach and impact as many young people as possible this year. That is why we are developing two exciting digital projects that will provide educators and young people with access to world class training that is usually only available to Team UK. We are also creating new resource that will help educators harness the training methods used in competitions to help more young people develop higher quality skills. We aim to reach over 80,000 young people across the UK through these activities.

    And as part of our continued commitment to develop digital outreach for more young people we have already launched Skill with me. Skill with me Technical Masterclasses and Mindset is a series of tutorials delivered by our world-class training managers and performance and wellbeing team. Tutorials demonstrate world-class techniques, practices and technology in developing excellence in young people and to help educators equip young people with the skills to succeed in work and life. And the Skill with me website was viewed over 3,000 times in the first few weeks.

  2. 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 be supported in this way over the coming months.

    We received over 2,900 registrations across 68 skills for our national competitions from apprentices and students. We have seen some innovative new approaches to assessment and competition online, including AoC Sport and Complete Forensics who, within their respective skills, have adapted their content and test projects to engage the competitors and test this technical knowledge and learning in a digital way.

    Although we will not be continuing the national cycle in 2020 we will continue to work with all the competitors who registered to provide them with skills and mindset development that will ensure that while they are not able to compete as first planned, they will still receive significant value from their engagement in WorldSkills UK activities. This will include access to further resources and virtual bootcamps that will provide information and advice regarding well-being and employability. This activity will be supported by our Skills Champions, performance coaches and our partner, Youth Employment UK.

    We will use the time not engaged in running physical competitions, to stay engaged with our network of employers, colleges and training providers, review our competitions and strengthen their quality, reach and impact for 2021 so we can help more young people achieve higher skills.

    We will be optimising our plans to ensure we can provide equal access and opportunity for all young people who will be encouraged to register for the 2021 national competitions cycle, knowing that this could lead to a place in the team to represent the UK at EuroSkills St Petersburg 2022 and WorldSkills Lyon 2023

  3. 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;

    Since April, we’ve updated and expanded our Careers Advice Toolkit. We’ve added two new modules on ‘Wellbeing’ and ‘Post 16 Education: College’ and made all our worksheets interactive and easier for people to use at home.

    We’re pleased that over 550 new organisations have downloaded the toolkit since April alone and over the coming months we will also be developing the post 16 education module further to include traineeships, t-levels and higher apprenticeships.

  4. 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

    We continue to work with our network of over 300 past competitors to inspire the next generation. To do this we’ve launched a new product: Teach Tom. Teach Tom is a series of videos designed to break down different sectors into understandable bitesize snapshots of what skills are needed. These are a fantastic introductory tool for educators and influencers to use when inspiring young people to think about a particular career route - showcasing that anyone can discover a new skill which in turn helps them discover a potential job for them in the future.

    Each one features an expert Skills Champion attempting to teach what is an everyday skill in their role to our alumni manager, Tom. In June, we launched videos for: 3D Digital Game Art, Beauty Therapy and Culinary Arts and three more in Coding, Commercial make up and Floristry have already been delivered. In the first few weeks, the Teach Tom pages were viewed over 1,000 times

  5. 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.

    Progress on the WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence has ramped up over the past three months.

    We received 55 applications from colleges keen to be a part of the pilot – a quarter of all further education colleges across the UK– demonstrating real leadership appetite for the development of skills excellence in colleges. We will confirm the 20 colleges who will be successful in the first phase in September and we will work with all 55 colleges to establish a new best practice network. We’re pleased to have appointed our skills coaches, whose role it will be to transfer their world-class know-how and they will be announced in August.

    The Centre of Excellence will lead the way in inspiring international standards in teaching, learning and assessment in colleges, directly in line with the Education Secretary’s ambitions for a world-class skills system in England, ensuring 40,000 young people have access to both high quality and higher-level technical and mindset training, giving them the best start in work and life.

    We will also be supporting the development of Centre of Excellence and the UK Government’s flagship policy objectives for FE through new research to uncover further international best practice and innovation insights which we will be sharing with all our stakeholders and through online events in the Autumn. 

Summary

We are determined to support over 180,000 young people across the UK through our new activities and will continue to work hard with our valued partners to share our knowledge and expertise helping young women and men make important decisions about their future and to reach their full potential.

We are also focused on the need to support the ambitions of the UK Secretary of State for Education and governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to raise standards in technical education over the longer term and help build systems that respond to the needs of the economy, while enabling students and apprentices to gain skills at higher technical levels and pursue fulfilling careers.

In all of these projects we value your input and feedback so that we can adapt and improve our approach and provide practical support and insights to all our stakeholders: young people, educators, employers and governments. So please do keep in touch.

We will provide a further update on our plans in October

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