The skills minister announced a UK successor to the WorldSkills London 2011 competition at the House of Commons last night.
The new annual showcase, named ‘WorldSkills UK – The Skills Show’, will be held at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham from November 15-17, 2012.
John Hayes MP, speaking at the Parliamentary Reception for National Apprenticeship Week, said: “It will showcase all that is best in our world and by that, I mean the world of skills here in the UK.”
The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) say they hope to host all of the existing national competitions at the event, as well as providing an apprenticeship showcase similar to the hugely successful WorldSkills London 2011.
The showcase will include the popular ‘Have a Go’ activities, as well as a number of experts to give out expert information, advice and guidance.
The national heats held at ‘WorldSkills UK – The Skills Show’ will help select the UK squad which will then compete internationally at Leipzig in 2013.
Jaine Bolton, national director for business development at NAS and official UK delegate for WorldSkills, said: “We’re hoping to get a couple of international teams there too, to do some of their own pressure testing ready for Leipzig, which of course only comes in July next year.”
Simon Waugh, chief executive of the NAS, said he thought the international WorldSkills event held in London last year was the best in the competition’s history.
Mr Waugh said: “What we had was the best WorldSkills event in history – by a mile – 200,000 people went to see it and the vast majority of them were 14-18 year-olds, so it was a fantastic demonstration of what we can do.
“It was the best medal haul we’ve ever had for the UK and that’s why the Skills Show we’re going to have is so important.”
The Parliamentary Reception was attended by a number of former apprentices and WorldSkills competitors, including Will Torrent, now a patisserie consultant at Waitrose.
“It’s about reaching out to more and more people, and saying you know what, being in a skill, being in a vocation can be cool, it can be sexy, it’s trendy and it can lead to a lot of amazing things,” Mr Torrent said.
“The Skills Show will see tens of thousands of people, hopefully young people coming and saying, well I’m not really academic, I’m not really great at wring essays, but I want to be a bricklayer, or I wasn’t to be a pastry chef, and this is also how I can represent my country.”
Shane Allum, a former apprentice at BT and volunteer at WorldSkills London 2011, said any apprentice should try and get involved with ‘WorldSkills UK – The Skills Show’.
“When you’re an apprentice there are so many opportunities open to you, and if you can get involved you absolutely should, because you’ll get so much from it,” Mr Allum said.
“The Skills Show sounds like a really, really great opportunity and a great showcase of the things that people in different kinds of apprenticeships can experience and achieve.”
The event will take place just three days before the Association of Colleges (AoC) Annual Conference 2012, held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) between November 20-22, 2012.
Jaine Bolton said the timings of the two events were merely ‘coincidental’.
“There’s some really good opportunities for us there in terms of getting more of the FE college principals and college network to both events, but it is just a coincidence.” she said.
Visitor registration for ‘WorldSkills UK – The Skills Show’ will be open from March 22, 2012.
Colleges and training providers wishing to apply as a showcase organisation or host a ‘Have a Go’ activity at the ‘WorldSkills UK – The Skills Show’ have until April 20, 2012 to submit a proposal.