WorldSkills Lyon 2024:  How we’ll set a new ambition for UK skills

With every further education provider behind us, we can set ourselves on a course to a world-beating skills sector, says Ben Blackledge

With every further education provider behind us, we can set ourselves on a course to a world-beating skills sector, says Ben Blackledge

8 May 2024, 9:00

Having just passed my 10-year anniversary at WorldSkills UK I have had the opportunity to see again and again the transforming power of FE. I have witnessed the development of young people and heard the belief from employers that highly-skilled young people are the answer to many of their workforce challenges.

Yet the most recent Youth Voice Census from Youth Employment UK shows that young people are still twice as likely to consider going to university than picking an apprenticeship. For most of us there continues to be a disconnect between our experience of FE and how the sector is viewed by the public.

I am a strong believer that to alter the culture around apprenticeships and technical vocational training, we need to invest in both the perception and reality of skills in the UK. We need to create excitement around these career choices and the successes they can lead to.  And we must do so while ensuring at the same time that the mechanisms and innovations are put in place to raise standards in training programmes so that employers can better compete nationally and internationally. 

This exact approach is personified in Team UK, a group of ordinary young people achieving extraordinary things.  Just like our sporting Olympians, they are pushing themselves to break through barriers everyday as they train for the toughest skills competitions in the world, demonstrating excellence in their skill.

We must celebrate their achievements, while using their world-beating performances to set a new ambition for skills in this country. And with Pearson as Team UK’s official partner, we believe WorldSkills Lyon 2024 gives us the perfect opportunity to do both. 

So, as we prepare for the competition, we have three priorities to play our part to raise standards, champion skills and empower young people. 

First, we will be shining a spotlight on the individual members of Team UK and the teams behind them: their Training managers, their training providers and their employers.  We are asking you to join us in celebrating our ‘skilled’ heroes. By sharing their inspirational stories of achievements, resilience and setbacks we can excite young people, from all backgrounds, about their career choices and opportunities.  

We can empower young people to expect nothing short of world-class training

Second, we’ll be gathering international best practice, using our network of 86 WorldSkills member countries to understand the latest techniques and training methodologies, and sharing these insights across the sector.

We have already made great strides in embedding world-class teaching and learning through our Centre of Excellence, in partnership with NCFE, and through our work with IFATE where we’re helping to update existing occupational standards and develop new ones in line with global standards.  The WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence is free to join and is a growing network of organisations committed to delivering excellence for their learners.

Third, we need to use the focus on global skills development at WorldSkills to help meet rapidly changing employer needs in existing and emerging industries. As an international learning company, Pearson understands the importance of global standards in cutting edge industries, so we are delighted to have their support for Team UK to enter the renewable energy and additive manufacturing competitions for the first time.

By using insights from Lyon, we will continue to champion, promote and develop the skills young people need and employers are crying out for.

As the country gets behind our sporting Olympians in Paris, we must celebrate our skill Olympians in Lyon. Working together, we can empower young people to expect nothing short of world-class training to launch their careers. 

In doing so, we will set a new ambition for skills, one that focuses on excellence, to drive investment, jobs and economic growth across the UK. 

FE Week, the media partner of Team UK will be keeping you up to date with all the latest news as the team prepare for WorldSkills Lyon 2024.

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