Competing in skills competitions across the world can help drive up standards and growth at home, writes Neil Bentley-Gockmann
After the delays and difficulties of the past couple of years, 35 young women and men from all four UK nations are off to take on the best of the rest of the world in the WorldSkills international competitions.
The team is competing in 29 different skills in October and November, from cutting-edge disciplines such as web technology and cyber security in South Korea, to welding and construction metalwork in the United States, to industry 4.0 and mechatronics in Germany. We are immensely proud of them all for their dedication to training and their commitment to flying the flag for UK skills on the world stage.
As well as sending Team UK members off around the world, we are hosting the aircraft maintenance and the manufacturing team challenge competitions, bringing WorldSkills International to the UK for the first time since 2011.
This gives us an amazing opportunity to raise the profile and prestige of UK skills and show how competition-based training can literally transform young people’s lives. Research conducted by Frontier Economics finds that young people who had participated in our competition-based training programmes earn more than those who have not. According to the research, WorldSkills UK alumni earnings are 63 per cent higher than the average earnings of their peers who had not taken part in our programmes.
This year we are looking to get even more out of our participation in the global competition so that even more young people can benefit from our work. By learning from competing against other leading countries in priority sectors of the economy, such as advanced manufacturing, we can capture and share those insights to help to drive up training standards.
This is vital against a challenging outlook for the economy because we know that a world-class skills base can help to give businesses confidence to invest, create jobs and hire talented young people. This could be pivotal for the government’s new investment zones and to improve prosperity.
Over the next two months we will be forensic in gathering insights on the latest global industry requirements, in technical precision as well as how skills are developed in a pressurised environment. And we will be sharing what we learn with our partners across the UK through our Centre of Excellence, in partnership with NCFE, as well as our innovation network.
I hope you will join me in wishing every member of Team UK the very best of luck.