For the very first time we’re making our competition assessment modules available to educators, free of charge. We’ve done this so that students and apprentices can compare their performance with the average scores from last year’s competitors in our highly-respected national skills competitions. Participants can benchmark their performance against some of the best students across the country and instantly recognise how they can improve their skills, knowledge and competencies through self-reflection against set criteria. Taking part will inspire students and apprentices to learn in a fun environment that engages and enthuses them and drives up aspirations to achieve higher standards in their work.
This benchmarking also gives educators a valuable opportunity to provide constructive feedback on strengths and areas for improvement and to support curriculum development, so students and apprentices are learning the skills that are reflective of what professional sectors need, now and in the future.
The programme is aimed at all students at level two and three (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or level five and six (Scotland SVQ2 and SVQ 3) even if they have taken part in regional or national competition activity in previous years.
A powerful tool, skills competitions have been proven to drive up standards and improve the teaching and learning experience of teachers and students and raise aspirations for both. They are an ideal way of enriching the curriculum and re-engaging learners and enabling them to address lost learning that may have resulted from the last two years of the Covid pandemic. They are also valuable in helping students and apprentices to develop the employability skills that employers value so highly, helping young people to become more well-rounded and high-performance ready individuals.
Colleagues in many FE colleges are finding our national competitions useful in supporting curricula with 58% colleges in England registering competitors in 2021 resulting in over 3,000 registrations. The competitions have a nationwide appeal with substantial representation of competitors coming from Wales, the North-West, Scotland, West Midlands and Northern Ireland. This is encouraging in terms of supporting the Government’s levelling up agenda and highlights WorldSkills UK’s specific focus on opening up career opportunities to young people from all backgrounds, especially those who may traditionally have been denied them.
Over eight in ten national competition participants surveyed said that competing made them feel more ambitious in pursuing their career.
97% of previous entrants say they improved their technical Skills
93% said they improved their personal and employability skills
90% said they could apply the skills they developed
“My knowledge of some skills has improved and are more in-depth now than I ever would have had before. Currently I just want to keep working and improving my skills through participating in more competitions to build upon my skills in the workshop.” (Billie-Jo, automotive technology student and WorldSkills UK competitor, South West College, N Ireland).
The modules of our competition-development programme are designed to be incorporated into lessons of up to one hour so they can be easily integrated into timetables, or for students and apprentices to undertake in their own time. Each activity is relevant to the individual skill area and will address potential skill and knowledge gaps. Some of these will be ongoing skills development gaps in the curriculum but will also include areas for development that have been established through the National Finals. For example, in some practical skills it is evident that students have experienced challenges using basic tools and equipment.
We cover a wide range of skill areas in our competition-development programme at levels two and three (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or level five and six (Scotland SVQ2 and SVQ 3):
Automotive Body Repair
Fine Jewellery Making
Health & Social Care
Heavy Vehicle Technology
IT Software Solutions for Business
IT Support Technician
Network Infrastructure Technician
Network Systems Administrator
All our training materials have been designed by industry experts for relevance and assess an individual’s knowledge and practical skills, together with employability attributes such as resilience, communication, time management and teamwork.
Designed to be engaging and flexible, during class or in their own time, students simply visit the website page and look for the relevant skill area and click ‘start assessment’. The programme not only gives them a realistic reflection of ability against their counterparts from across the UK, but also encourages them to strive for excellence raising their aspirations and encouraging them to take more responsibility for their own learning and development.
By weaving skills competitions into the core curriculum, vocational education providers can develop learners more creatively using competitions as a means of assessment. Through encouraging different teaching and learning practices, in line with employers’ needs, colleges can help drive up the quality and profile of vocational education providing valuable evidence against a range of criteria within the Ofsted Inspection Framework.
Give your students the opportunity to stretch and challenge themselves by taking part. They will benefit from the experience which for many is life-changing and they can include their competition results in their personal portfolio, supporting their CV when engaging with employers and educators. Getting your students and apprentices to participate is also a good way of addressing Gatsby Benchmark four: Linking curriculum learning to careers.
“The best thing I have learned is more about myself. The competitions bring so many qualities out of you that sometimes you don’t realise you have. You find out a lot about yourself through these competitions.” (Harry Funnell, Former student at Myserscough College Lancs, and former apprentice, award-winning Frogheath Landscapes).
Having competition activity within the curriculum and its delivery doesn’t necessarily mean additional work, it’s about enhancing what’s already in place through different ways of learning. The concept can be introduced gradually into the classroom to enable students to get comfortable with the idea competing, as a way of building their skills and confidence.
The competition-development programme can also be used as an introduction to select competitors for the 2022 WorldSkills UK national competition cycle which is now open for registration and closes on 1 April. Each year over 3,000 competitors enter. They take part in National Qualifiers and those that succeed go on to the National Finals held in November throughout the country when they compete against their peers for coveted Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals and the chance to join Squad UK. After this, they also have the unique opportunity of being selected for Team UK and the chance to represent their country on the international stage. The next EuroSkills competition will be held in 2023 and the next WorldSkills event in Lyon, France in 2024.
“Apply for it and see where it takes you! It’s a great opportunity to show off your skills and if you do make it to the National Finals, it’s really fun and hands-on, you get to have a play around with technology that you wouldn’t normally.” (Toby IT support technician apprentice).
Regardless of what stage competitors reach in the national and international competitions, all of them have the chance to stretch and challenge themselves and return to their college or employer with a renewed energy and newfound skills to contribute and act as a role model to colleagues.
For educators, embedding both the competition-development programme or national cycle competition activity into the curriculum offers greater scope for creativity in teaching, training and learning techniques. It’s a valuable way of continuing professional development, extending pedagogical skills and knowledge and opportunities for more involvement with skills competitions. Our judges, coaches and experts are dedicated to helping the next generation of young professionals hone their talents, leading the way to a skills-led economy.