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In a year of vast reforms and financial crisis for the sector, there has been one event that has allowed us to take a breather and witness FE at its best: the Skills Show.

Almost 80,000 people headed to Birmingham’s NEC for the country’s biggest careers event, which took place between November 16 and 18, to watch the crème de la crème of skills.

The finals of the national WorldSkills UK competitions were, as ever, the heart of the show, and broadcast the incredible talent that our colleges, independent learning providers and employers produce.

We start this special souvenir supplement with a sit-down interview with the man that makes this all happen, Dr Neil Bentley, the chief executive of WorldSkills UK. He discusses how he feels the sixth annual show went, what his highlights were, and what he has learned to take into 2018.

Turning over to page four, you will read about the unusual number of government ministers who descended on the NEC to help tackle what one former skills minister described as “the nightmare on skills street” that Britain currently faces.

You’ll also find the inspiring story of Kaiya Swain, who won a gold medal in beauty therapy at last month’s WorldSkills competition in Abu Dhabi. She reflects on her experience of the Skills Show, her time in Abu Dhabi and how she uses her experience to drive her business forward.

On page five, our managing director Shane Mann tours the show, meeting employers and apprentices, and finding out why they get involved in the exhibition. There you can also read about the Skills Show’s inaugural Youth Summit.

Over on pages six and seven we put inclusive skills competitions into the spotlight, where students with learning difficulties and disabilities show off their employability.

We then celebrate those who made it into Squad UK, and take stock of where we are on the road to WorldSkills Kazan in 2019, with a comment piece from Dr Bentley on the industrial strategy and the role that WorldSkills UK can play in boosting productivity.

Finally we cover a celebration from the final night: the medal ceremony which brought Skills Show 2017 to a close, with reaction from some of the medal-winners. On pages 12 to 15 you can read the full listing of winners.


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