For the young people involved, there can be no doubt skills competitions offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

However, the impact of skills competitions ripples out much wider than just the handful of talented young people who make it to the medal podium — and that ripple effect in raising standards is what this supplement sets out to explore.

Skills competitions began in Spain in 1947, with the first international competition in 1953. Today, 74 countries compete in 46 sectors at WorldSkills.

In the UK, Find a Future oversees WorldSkills UK, which runs around 60 competitions at regional and national level, choosing the best competitors for the biennial WorldSkills and EuroSkills competitions. This year will see the WorldSkills finals take place in São Paulo, Brazil — and the team UK members are due to be announced this month.

The process begins again in November, when the national finals at the Skills Show will determine who makes it through to the training squad for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017.

The UK’s official delegate in Brazil, Skills Funding Agency and Education Funding Agency chief executive Peter Lauener shares his hope and view of the benefits of competition on page 3. On pages 4 and 5, we look at research into the impact of 2011’s WorldSkills London with WorldSkills International chief executive Simon Bartley explaining how the UK can make the most of taking part.

On page 6, North Warwickshire and Hinckley College principal Marion Plant explains the benefits of WorldSkills on standards across the college, while UK Skills head of development Jenny Shackleton tells us what competitions do for the FE sector as a whole.

Private providers are under-represented in competitions, so on page 7 we look at what benefits are gained by the few that do take part, and Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Stewart Segal gives also gives his view.

On pages 10 and 11, we find out more about the dedicated training providers who guide competitors on their WorldSkills journey and hear about what they take from the process.

On page 12, we find out how skills competitions affect industries that are involved and on page 13, we see how inclusive skills competitions are benefitting learners with disabilities and learning difficulties.

Finally, on pages 14 and 15, former competitors explain how WorldSkills changed their lives and careers.

As always, you can join the conversation at and on Twitter with @feweek.

Click here to download the supplement.  

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