WorldSkills 2019: Team UK given send-off at Parliament

Skills minister Anne Milton told 37 of the UK’s best and brightest young skilled people they are about to face the “biggest challenge” of their lives during a special send-off event ahead of WorldSkills 2019 today.

Delivering a heartfelt speech in the House of Commons, Milton told the Team UK competitors and their families she was “incredibly proud” of them as they embark in their journey to Kazan, Russia, next month.

“Not winning is quite a comfortable position to be in, because if you say it you have to face the prospect that you might not win,” she said. “That step is the step you have to take.”

She added that all the competitors are about to become ambassadors for not just their chosen skill but for all young people across the country.

“Dedication matters, and you’ve got to be at the top of your game, because handling the pressure is a very critical thing,” Milton said.

Shadow skills minister Gordon Marsden, who hosted the event, said this was a good time for the competitors to be going to Russia “with love”.

“When I look through the list of categories that will be taking place in Kazan they are a smörgåsbord of the sort of skills we will need in the future,” he said.

In another passionate speech, Marsden asked the young talents to “not be undersold” and do their best, because that is “all you can always do”.

“Nobody knows what the future will be, but what we know is that the technical, vocational skills and the creative skills that you deploy out there will be crucial to our future and, in this case, for your personal future.”

 

Worldskills UK chief executive Neil Bentley-Gockmann also told the competitors: “We are just one month away from the challenge of a lifetime. So I am delighted that we are here today to celebrate you, your achievements so far, and your potential as you gear up to your Russian adventure.”

He said the goal for Team UK is to retain its top-10 position in the world. But, he added, getting this far “means you are the best in the UK in what you do”, which is a massive achievement in itself.

Landscape gardening competitor Sam Taylor told FE Week that he and teammate Shea McFerran experienced a “bad start” in EuroSkills Budapest last year, after failing to win a medallion of excellence. But since then, the team has been training hard to overcome the issues.

“We have been out in China during Easter and we have done really well in there,” he said.

“It was a good pressure test for us.

“I am pretty confident. I want to smash it and get the gold medal.”

Collete Gorvett, restaurant service competitor, told FE Week it was “really nice seeing all my team mates and catch up with everyone”.

“Having the MPs and the WorldSkills committee here shows that we are having a lot of support.”

Gorvett added: “Obviously everyone here wants to do really well and maintain at least the top 10 position. It’s an amazing achievement to get started off with, and then everything that comes after that is going to be a bonus.”

 

And Callum Knott, training manager of Jack Dakin and Danny Slater, who are competing in mechatronics, said that training two people is about finding people with “complementary skills”.

“They need to have not only technical ability but be able to work together. They have to spend more hours together than with their own partners, so they need to get along quite well.”

He added: “We are hoping to achieve a medal. We would be very disappointed if we didn’t come back with a medallion.”

The team will fly to Kazan on August 18, in preparation for competitions which will run between August 22 and 27, where FE Week will be joining them.