WorldSkills 2017: Touchdown in Abu Dhabi

WorldSkills 2017: Touchdown in Abu Dhabi

After a 3,000 mile flight Team UK has landed in Abu Dhabi ahead of their contests with the rest of the world’s best young people in trade careers at WorldSkills 2017.

The 34 competitors representing our country headed to London Heathrow airport in the early hours (around 5am) this morning after staying overnight at a nearby Hilton hotel following a parliamentary send-off event yesterday.

Accompanied by the WorldSkills UK operations and media teams, their team leaders, and FE Week, the competitors used the three-hour wait until the flight to relax and bond as a group.

“It’s exciting [coming out as a group], there’s a great team atmosphere,” said Ethan Davies, the UK’s CNC Milling competitor, who added that he expects the competition in Abu Dhabi to be “fierce”.

His team-mate Daryl Head, who’s competing in car painting, also told FE Week: “Everywhere you look there’s someone there that you can speak to. It’s [the experience] surreal, I don’t think it will really hit us until we get there and heat hits.”

 

At 9.35am we boarded the plane but before taking off the captain gave Team UK a special good luck message over the speakers, which was met with thunderous applause from all passengers.

FE Week chatted with chief team leader Joanne Maher about the importance of heading out to the competitions as a group.

“Building the team is absolutely essential, they need to have that bond and ethos,” she said.

“They live together 24/7 for 11 days straight and they become each other’s family, support networks and all of that. Bringing them together as a team really gives them that sense of pride in wearing the Team UK shirt but also a sense of belonging.”

Ms Maher, who’s also the principal of Boston College and Team UK’s psychologist, added: “We make sure the flight and the journey out there is fun and as soon as they land and see the other teams that instantly brings them together as that sense of ‘we are the UK and this is what we’re about’ kicks in.”

At 7.30pm Abu Dhabi time the team were met by sweltering desert heat of close to 40 degrees as they got off the plane.

The team swiftly headed off to their hotel to get some rest ahead of ‘one school one country’, which is happening tomorrow morning and will see the competitors visit a local school to share their stories.

And of course, FE Week will be joining them. You can show your support on Twitter throughout the competitions by tweeting #TeamUK.