Over 500 finalists prepare for action at WorldSkills UK LIVE

Five hundred and thirty finalists will be battling it out to see who will be crowned their skill’s national champion at WorldSkills UK LIVE this year, it has been announced.

Many of the champions in the past have gone on to compete in Team UK internationally, either at EuroSkills or WorldSkills, which was held most recently this summer in Russia.

Of the 194 organisations – including colleges, employers and military – which are sending competitors, the five sending the most are: New College Lanarkshire, City of Glasgow College, North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, Pembrokeshire College, and Southern Regional College.

To find out why, FE Week asked each of these colleges to finish this sentence: ‘We invest in skills competitions because…’

New College Lanarkshire is sending the most competitors with 24, and interim principal Annette Bruton answered: “Developing skills is at the heart of everything we do and showcasing this in competition enhances confidence while improving future prospects.”

The college has a strong track record in the competitions, finishing in the top three institutions in the last five years – including being named best in UK twice.

City of Glasgow College principal Paul Little, whose college is sending 21 competitors, answered: “I firmly believe these competitions help to improve skills levels and deliver economic growth.”

He added: “I am delighted City of Glasgow College is fielding its strongest team yet and we hope, of course, to repeat our past successes.”

This is a reference to WorldSkills LIVE 2018, where the college came back home with four gold, four silver and six bronze medals.

North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, which is sending 20 competitors, answered the question by saying: “They stretch and motivate staff and learners towards securing higher levels of achievement and progress.

“Participation in competitions not only develops high levels of technical skills, but more importantly develops the core employability skills, which machines will never replace. “These skills ultimately help our learners to secure great jobs and exciting career opportunities.”

The Inclusive Skills competitions at WorldSkills UK LIVE, where competitors with disabilities and learning difficulties can demonstrate their skills, have their roots in North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire, which they are “proud” of.

Barry Walters, principal of Pembrokeshire College, which is sending 19 competitors, said they invest in the competitions because: “We recognise the value that they bring to the learning experience and the positive impact they have on raising standards.

“Through competing in local, regional and national competitions learners not only get the opportunity to perfect their skills against the best of the best but they also gain so many other skills that will set them apart as they progress into employment or to further their education.”

Southern Regional College, which is sending 18 competitors from Northern Ireland, said it invested in skills competitions as they “raise standards, promote excellence in skills, inject ambition and aspiration, build confidence and self-esteem, and provide meaningful and enjoyable learning experiences to learners.”

The college runs inter-campus competitions, which lead into selections for regional and national competitions.

WorldSkills UK LIVE is the country’s biggest careers event and features national skills competitions in areas like automotive body repair, fine jewellery making, and carpentry.

WorldSkills UK deputy chief executive Ben Blackledge said: “Not only do WorldSkills UK competitions offer the chance to really recognise and celebrate the excellence at all levels of the skills system, it is also proven way to help young people develop and go further, faster in their training and careers.”

The show for 2019 will run from 21 to 23 November.

To read our jam-packed supplement, sponsored by Pearson, click here.