The country’s biggest skills and careers event, WorldSkills UK LIVE, has been cancelled for 2020 due to the health and safety concerns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s WorldSkills competition cycle will also not run.

But both events will return in 2021 as the UK begins to prepare its next group of talented young trades people to take to EuroSkills St Petersburg 2022 and WorldSkills Lyon 2023 – competitions which are dubbed the ‘skills Olympics’.

Preparations for EuroSkills Graz, which was scheduled to take place this September but has been postponed until January, and Shanghai 2021 have been ongoing virtually throughout lockdown. Team UK for Graz is expected to be announced either next month or in early September.

WorldSkills UK LIVE, which takes place annually in November at the NEC, Birmingham, hosts the National Finals of the skills competitions and welcomes tens of thousands of young people every year to hear from top employers such as BAE Systems, HS2 and Health Education England.

Neil Bentley-Gockmann, chief executive of WorldSkills UK LIVE, said: “It is with a heavy heart that we have had to cancel LIVE and our competitions  but the ongoing uncertainty, coupled with the practicalities of hosting more than 70,000 people under one roof, led us to taking this difficult decision.

“We will be returning to the NEC in 2021 stronger and more effective than ever.”

Although WorldSkills UK will not be running its national competitions cycle in 2020 the organisation said they will continue to work with all the competitors who registered to “provide them with skills and mindset development”.

This will include access to virtual bootcamps that will provide information and advice regarding well-being and employability, supported by former WorldSkills competitors known as ‘skills champions’, performance coaches and Youth Employment UK.

While cancelling LIVE was a “sad” decision, Bentley-Gockmann said it has presented an opportunity for his organisation to increase its work on digital platforms.

“Through these challenges has come the opportunity to evolve our programmes and create a new online offering for tutorials, masterclasses and assessment to help many more young people get access to our resources so they can continue to think about their career next steps and develop their skills.”

Speaking to FE Week, Bentley-Gockmann explained their digital presence will mostly be enhanced via online seminars focussed on mental health and well-being and employability skills.

“It is about helping competitors with advice and techniques about managing their mental health and wellbeing, goal setting, time management, attention control.

“So that will be online seminars around thinking about your skills and employability skills and what employers are looking for, such as CV writing and interview preparation.”

He added that next year’s LIVE event could also become more virtual to reach more parts of the country.

“We’re thinking about potentially a virtual LIVE as part of our thinking about how we make the event accessible from anywhere in the UK, as well as people coming into it physically from West and East Midlands.

“If you can’t get to a LIVE event, we want to explore how you make it virtual so wherever you are in the country, you can experience what’s going on.”

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