Twenty “elite” apprentices and students from the UK will head to Poland this autumn to compete against the best young trades people Europe has to offer at the EuroSkills finals.
Talented UK students in disciplines such as hairdressing, joinery, cooking, restaurant service, plumbing and web development will go up against their European peers in Gdańsk from September 5 to 9, with the competition encompassing 600 young learners from 32 member countries.
Following top ten positions from UK entrants in last year’s WorldSkills finals, Team UK organisers confirmed the UK will be entering the digital construction and robot systems integration categories for the European competition for the first time.
Lucy Yelland, a Siemens apprentice who will represent Team UK in mechatronics, said: “The training so far has been tough but really enjoyable.”
Ben Love, who is also an apprentice with Siemens and competing in the mechatronics category, added: “As an apprentice, I never thought I would be saying that I would be representing the UK in Europe.”
Tyler Lewis – a student at Harrow, Richmond and Uxbridge Colleges – won gold in the national finals, and said: “Now to be able to say I’m representing the UK in Europe is just the best feeling. For now, I’m focused on preparing for the competition as I know the standard will be really high.”
Competitors, who come from all four nations of the UK, have been through a thorough selection process that included taking part in the national competitions. They will be eyeing a place on the WorldSkills finals stage, set to take place in France next year.
Event organisers said they expect more than 100,000 spectators from Poland and across Europe to watch the EuroSkills events, after disrupted years caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ben Blackledge, interim chief executive at WorldSkills UK, said it would provide a “valuable mechanism” in which to benchmark students’ skills against European standards.
“This will be a life-enhancing opportunity for these remarkable young people who will be competing as Team UK. They are the embodiment not only of the characteristics that we should aspire for in a young workforce, but for the UK Government’s ambitions for global Britain too,” Blackledge said.
“They are leaders of their generation – and will inspire many more to walk in their footsteps. I wish them the best of luck.”
Teija Ripattila, chair of the board for WorldSkills Europe, said the event will showcase “the highest standards of excellence which motivates more young people to develop technical and vocational skills”.
Robert Halfon, the minister for skills, apprenticeships and higher education, said EuroSkills helped learners achieve their career goals.
He added: “Celebrating Britain’s excellence in skills isn’t just good for business and the economy, it makes a real difference to how vocational education and apprenticeships are perceived, raise their status and support our brilliant further education sector.”