WorldSkills UK has named a shortlist of 94 students and apprentices as candidates for the official team that will compete against the rest of the world at WorldSkills Lyon next year.
Young people have been selected from regional and national finals across 27 different skills to form Squad UK. They will now begin an 18-month intensive training programme to prepare them for selection for the ‘skills olympics’ in 2024.
Those showing exceptional promise will be announced as official members of Team UK in spring 2024 and will head to Lyon to compete in September of that year.
The squad announced today, full list below, will be guided through their training by a team of highly skilled trainers, industry experts, former medal winners and performance coaches to help them prepare for the pressure of competing at such a high level.
Next year’s competition will be a return to a single host country, as last year’s competition was hosted in 11 nations following the cancellation of WorldSkills Shanhai 2022 due to ongoing Covid restrictions.
Despite the change in venue, Team UK finished in tenth place last year, as well as securing a best ever fourth-place finish in digital skills where they finished above Germany and China.
WorldSkills UK Deputy CEO Ben Blackledge says this is a life-changing moment for the 94 Squad members, who now face months of intensive training that will take their skills to a whole new level.
He said, “They have done so well to get to this stage and are fantastic examples of the very best of our further education system, but the hard work really starts now as they have an international competition to prepare for.”
Meet the squad
Anastasiya Kovtun, age 20 and originally from Ukraine but who grew up in Northern Ireland, secured her place in the 2024 UK squad in the recent laboratory technician national finals.
She says she was so happy when she got the message from WordSkills UK saying she had made it through as it would be the best opportunity to gain more chemistry knowledge and different techniques in the laboratory.
Despite thinking she had forgotten a vital formula during the national competition, Kovtun still managed to make it through.
“It was so funny. I wrote the formula down and asked one of the judges ‘is this the right formula’… It was the second day, in the morning, and I was so tired I just started to cry. I came back and was like yeah that is the formula and laughed at myself.”
She explains “It was so stressful! In the moment you’re sitting there like why I am doing this to myself but after you’re like its fine it’s worth it.”
Mikhaela Rain Roy, who is studying robotics at Middlesex University, told FE Week that her head of department encouraged her class to go for the WorldSkills UK competition, but mostly just advertised automation and mechatronics because that had been what had been done so far.
However, Mikhaela challenged herself to go for Industry 4.0, and successfully made it to Squad UK alongside team-mates Simonas Brasas and Yeeba Astha, both from Barking and Dagenham College.
Grace Burton, age 19 and who works for Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, is studying at Loughborough College. She explains that she is also extremely proud to have made it onto the health and social care team.
“Finding out I had made the squad for Lyon 2024 was some of the most amazing news ever. To know my hard work had paid off with the national competition, and I would get to join a squad with many other talented individuals is fabulous.”
“I performed to the best of my ability and tried my hardest and was really happy with how I did. The feedback I received, as well as the training and advice from the judges and fellow competitors, was great.”
When asked what she will do to prepare, Burton explains, “Much of my training is based on my day-to-day experiences of being a carer for my severely disabled brother. I will continue to draw on this to develop the different aspects – both mental and physical – needed to excel in the competition.”