Number 10 Downing Street got a visit from the cream of the UK’s vocational learners before they jetted off to Germany to take on the best of the rest at WorldSkills 2013.
Parliament’s apprenticeship ambassador Andrew Jones MP was on hand to greet the 34-strong Team UK, before they met with London Olympics bronze medal-winning high jumper Robbie Grabarz, who wished them well for the competition in Leipzig.
“These young people are not just ambassadors for skills and apprenticeships they are ambassadors for our country,” said Mr Jones.
“They demonstrate the talent and application of UK apprentices and show that apprenticeships are leading the way in ensuring we have the skills and abilities needed in our job market.
“I know Team UK will perform to the best of their abilities and repeat or better the success they had at the WorldSkills Competition in 2011 where they powered ahead of countries like China and Germany. I wish them every success in the competition.”
Mr Grabarz said: “I want to wish Team UK the best of luck for WorldSkills Leipzig 2013.
“I know personally how much training and effort is needed to be the best of the best and I know how hard the members of Team UK have been preparing.
“There are lots of similarities between training for a sport and training for WorldSkills and I hope that their achievements will help show the country just how talented these young men and women are and encourage other young people to get involved. I wish them every success in the future.”
Just like the Olympics, WorldSkills sees the most talented young people from all over the world compete for gold, silver and bronze glory.
And Team UK will be competing against apprentices with the aim of being named the best in the world in their vocational skills from July 2 to 7.
They are all aged between 18 and 25 and will compete in 30 skills ranging from electrical installation, welding and autobody repair to cooking, landscape gardening and bricklaying.
Ben Shaw, 20, Team UK member in CNC milling, said: “Our visit to Downing Street was an unforgettable experience.
“After we walked through the famous black door it really did hit me that I am representing the UK on the world stage.
“The last few months have been tough but I am pleased with the training I have put in and I am ready to do the UK proud and showcase how talented the young people in this country are.”
The team has also been given ministerial messages of support.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “Every member of Team UK is a role model for vocational skills.
“Team UK’s success is proof of how high quality apprenticeships and vocational qualifications can lead to rewarding and successful careers.
“WorldSkills is a fantastic competition that sends a strong message to young people across the globe that vocational skills and vocational qualifications should be supported, cherished and celebrated.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “When it comes to skills, Britain has world class talent. Team UK are a good example of what our workforce can offer business and how practical learning can transform the lives of young people.
“I wish them every success in their events in Leipzig next week while they compete against more than a thousand contestants from all over the world.”
The results of this year’s competition will be announced at its closing ceremony on Sunday, July 7.
FE Week will be reporting live throughout the evening from Leipzig’s Samsung Arena. See our reports on feweek.co.uk
An FE Week WorldSkills supplement is also being published.