What I won by taking part in WorldSkills UK competitions

All further education tutors should look at their learners as potential candidates for what is an unparalleled learning journey

All further education tutors should look at their learners as potential candidates for what is an unparalleled learning journey

14 Mar 2024, 17:00

I owe a huge amount to Will, my college tutor at City of Portsmouth College and Val, my lecturer and Training Manager at the University of Portsmouth. Standing in front of a packed exhibition hall in South Korea in 2022 as the results of the WorldSkills web technologies competition were read out, I knew that if it hadn’t been for their support (not to mention their encouragement to enter) I wouldn’t have been named one of the best young web developers in the world.

My BTEC level 3 extended diploma in IT opened so many doors for me professionally and personally. Significantly, it saw me compete in my first regional WorldSkills UK competition. With the registration period now open for this year, I wanted to share my experiences in the hope that more young people can benefit from taking part in WorldSkills UK Competitions.

Confidence will come

First, when looking at who to enter into skills competitions or other extra-curricular activities it can be easy to overlook the less outgoing students. I struggled with low self-esteem and would never have put myself forward for a competition like this. In fact, when my tutor first mentioned WorldSkills UK I thought it wasn’t for me. 

But we started with competition-based activity in the classroom and through this I began to build my confidence and resilience, two key skills that have helped me land my dream job as a web developer. 

The first time I competed was the first time I pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of, and the hard work paid off hugely. I didn’t even think I would do well enough to qualify, so to walk away with the gold medal at the WorldSkills UK national final later that year was truly amazing.

Relatable role models work

My tutor arranged for past students who had been involved in our competitions to share their experiences with us. Hearing how Dan Levings, who just a few years before was in my class, had gone onto train with WorldSkills UK and represent the UK in web development at the ‘skills olympics’ in São Paulo, Brazil was the motivation I needed to push myself. 

Once I began training to compete internationally, he also offered his time and support. I am immensely grateful to him and other alumni and made myself a promise that once my competing journey came to an end I would continue to volunteer with WorldSkills UK. 

Most recently, I supported with the training for EuroSkills Gdańsk 2023. Interaction with past students can be such a powerful tool for those who are currently studying, helping them relate what they are learning in the classroom to the world of work.

More than technical skills            

Taking part in competitions is so much more than just learning higher-level technical skills.   The focus on teamwork, communication skills and how to perform under pressure was just as important for me. 

While training with WorldSkills UK I learned how to look after myself mentally and physically and I received coaching sessions on how to present myself in professional situations. I used this experience when I competed in South Korea, and it has never stopped being useful in my workplace since. 

If you had asked me as a teenager whether I could ever stand up in the houses of parliament to share my experiences of representing my country with MPs, I would have said no. There was no way in my mind I would ever go as far as being selected to be part of a team. 

Since taking part in WorldSkills UK competitions, I’ve been able to believe in myself more and not be afraid to try new things, even when they are outside my comfort zone. It has given me the edge I needed to go the extra mile in my career.

I want all young people in FE to have the opportunities I had. That is why I am urging all tutors to get their students involved. Not all will be selected, but just having the opportunity to get involved at any level is just the motivation they might need to excel in their training and career.        

WorldSkills UK competitions are open for entry until 28 March 2024. Click here

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