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WorldSkills UK

What is the purpose of WorldSkills UK?

WorldSkills UK is an independent charity that works with employers, educators and government to use international best practice to raise standards in technical education and apprenticeships in the UK.

It is a member of the international WorldSkills group, which supports young people across the world through competition-based training, assessment and benchmarking.

The charity engages thousands of young people in regional and national skills competitions in the UK, where they improve their technical and employability skills. From these competitions, a cohort of young people aged between 16 and 22-years-old are chosen to represent the UK at EuroSkills and WorldSkills, which take place in alternative years.

WorldSkills UK also supports schools and colleges across the UK with careers advice, and practitioners with ongoing professional development.

What is AoC’s role within WorldSkills?

Skills competitions provide college students and staff with an invaluable set of opportunities. When participating, whether it’s at regional, national or international level, students develop the technical skill needed for their chosen discipline, and soft skills in areas such as team working, entrepreneurship, and problem-solving.

Engagement in skills competitions increases student confidence and enhances their employability prospects, and in turn, provides employers with a talent pipeline from their local college.

Competitions can be embedded into the college curriculum, supporting student recruitment and retention, driving learning outcomes and helping staff to keep their industry knowledge up to date.

Colleges up and down the country are involved in skills competitions, and AoC and WorldSkills UK jointly operate a special interest group for competition policy to support college competition ambassadors in the regions and to grow skills engagement.

How do the skills competitions work?

The competition cycle

Students register their interest for skills competitions online, and are invited to take part in remote or online pre-test in April.

If they perform well at this test, they are invited to the regional qualifiers, which take place between April and June, and where first, second and third places are selected. Those with the highest marks across all the Regional Qualifiers within their competition are selected to progress to the UK National Final at WorldSkills Live which takes place at the NEC in Birmingham.

In the time between the regional and national competitions, students receive training and development from WorldSkills coaches. The National Finals usually take place in November, and here, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Highly Commended Medals are awarded. The highest scoring, eligible competitors and teams will then be considered for a place in Squad UK.

The Squad then compete at the EuroSkills and WorldSkills competitions. The next WorldSkills will take part in Shanghai in 2022, and the next EuroSkills is taking part in St Petersburg in 2023.

The benefits of taking part

The competitions help to develop students’ personal and professional skills; as well as building on their technical skill set, they gain experience of real-world application, and the opportunity to showcase their skills on an national and international stage. Students also get the opportunity to work with skills leaders across the world, and develop networks with both their peers and industry. If selected for Squad UK, the students experience international travel, and gain valuable life skills away from home.

How does WorldSkills UK support colleges?

Skills development hub

WorldSkills UK wants to ensure that world-class skills development is accessible to all learners and teachers and therefore provides a free skills development hub. The hub hosts a range of tools and resources to support teachers and trainers with their own professional development, and that of their students, including material to support curriculum planning and delivery. Find out more here.

Research and insight

World Skills UK also publishes a wealth of research reports, all of which are relevant for colleges. Recent topics include the digital skills gap, how other countries drive technical excellence and how Northern Ireland is building a world-class skills economy; which can be found here.

The Centre of Excellence

In 2020, WorldSkills UK launched the Centre of Excellence in partnership with awarding organisation, NCFE. The centre draws on the charity’s insight into global skills systems, and aims to disseminate that knowledge into colleges throughout the UK.

WorldSkills UK training managers go into 20 colleges each year to share their teaching technique and skill. As well as sharing technical skills, the training managers will also cover the psychological conditioning competitors receive during their preparations for the international WorldSkills and EuroSkills tournaments. Find out more here.