If you were one of the many thousands of visitors to WorldSkills London 2011 last October it will come as no surprise as to why we are launching the UK’s first ever national skills event, WorldSkills UK – The Skills Show.

Nearly 200,000 people visited WorldSkills London 2011 when the UK hosted it, making it the most successful and largest WorldSkills event ever held in the 60 year history of the competition.

Young people, parents and employers were inspired, informed and entertained as the UK demonstrated how apprenticeships and vocational training really can lead to successful careers.  There was also the medal winning performance of Team UK.  Winning five gold, two silver, six bronze medals and 13 Medallions of Excellence, Team UK delivered the best ever performance by the UK at a WorldSkills competition.

As the event drew to a close last October, we were already being asked by training organisations, colleges and employers who had been involved how we could use the excitement and interest generated by the event to benefit the skills framework in the UK.  By hosting a UK only skills event, WorldSkills UK – The Skills Show we can showcase the very best of what the UK’s apprenticeships and further education system has to offer.

The Skills Show will feature an array of some of the country’s most outstanding apprenticeship and student talent.”

We will also use the event to celebrate the achievements of apprentices and other highly skilled young people who are contributing to the new era of skills in this country.

Skills Minister John Hayes launched WorldSkills UK – The Skills Show during National Apprenticeship Week 2012.  This followed the announcement made earlier in the week by Prime Minister David Cameron who pledged the government’s commitment to making apprenticeships the gold standard for ambitious young people.

This endorsement shows the government’s commitment to strengthening the UK’s economy by helping employers take on apprentices.  It is information and guidance both for young people on how they can enroll on training and for employers on how they can employ apprentices that will be a key part of the activity on offer at The Skills Show.  Visitors will be able to attend sessions where they can hear first hand from people in a vocational career and ask them about their experiences.  Employers will be able to connect with potential employees, take part in advice sessions on how to take on an apprentice and find out more about WorldSkills UK skills competitions.

We are also looking for colleges and training providers from across the UK to be part of our national skills showcase.  The Skills Show will feature an array of some of the country’s most outstanding apprenticeship and student talent.

The key element of WorldSkills London 2011 was the competitions taking place in over 45 skills areas.

These competitions saw over 1000 young people from all over the globe battle it out to be named the ‘best of the best’ in their chosen skill.  As I mentioned before Team UK did rather well and were ranked fifth.  We select competitors for Team UK from our WorldSkills UK national competitions.  The competitions are run in over 50 skills and are open to current apprentices and learners, or those who have completed a relevant programme of study within the past 12 months.

Many of these national finals will be taking place at The Skills Show and most importantly the competitors will all be UK based. Visitors really will get the opportunity to see the ‘best of the best’ in the UK in action and see the high level of talent that exists in the UK.  We hope this will motivate more people to get involved with apprenticeships and vocational training.

If you have students or apprentices who you think have got what it takes to compete on a national stage make sure you sign them up by March 15.  For more information visit
www.worldskillsuk.org

WorldSkills UK – The Skills Show is a vital part of the new era for skills in this country.  I urge you all to be part of it and ensure we continue to inspire the workforce of tomorrow to gain the skills that businesses need to remain competitive.

WorldSkills UK is taking place from 15 – 17 November at the NEC Birmingham.  For more information visit:  www.theskillsshow.com

Jaine Bolton, Director at the National Apprenticeship Service