Students and apprentices fly the flag for Team Wales at top UK skills show
Scores of students and apprentices are this week demonstrating the quality of Welsh vocational learning to tens of thousands of people from across the UK at the new flagship ‘Skills Show’ being held in Birmingham. (November 15–17).
Many of the 18-23 year olds from Wales are taking part in UK competitions in their chosen skills that may be a first step on the path to international glory at WorldSkills Leipzig 2013 or even WorldSkills Rio de Janeiro in 2015.
They are competing this week in their respective categories of the WorldSkills UK finals being held at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham as part of the inaugural Skills Show, which is expected to attract up to 100,000 spectators.
For the first time, the WorldSkills UK finals in most of the 40 qualifying disciplines are being held in one location in order to provide a single showcase for the UK’s most talented trainees.
The Skills Show has been created as an annual flagship event to act as a legacy to the WorldSkills 2011 event held in London last year.
The contingent from Team Wales won their way through to the finals in Birmingham based on their outstanding performance in the Skills Competition Wales programme earlier this year, which is backed by the Welsh Government through the European Social Fund.
They include trainees in fields as diverse as web design, carpentry, automotive engineering, stained glass making, plumbing, plastering and industrial electronics.
Other Welsh students and trainees, not involved in WorldSkills UK competitions, will also be showcasing their talents in a wide array of skills through a highly visual and entertainment-led programme, designed to inspire visitors. Cardiff & Vale College, Coleg Harlech WEA (North), Gr_p Llandrillo Menai and ISA Training students will take their place amongst the 50 ‘Showcase’ organisations chosen.
Welsh skills will also be showcased on a major exhibition stand where visitors will have the opportunity to try out a whole range of skills. This has been organised by a partnership made up of Welsh Government, Colegau Cymru, the National Training Federation for Wales and Higher Education Wales.
Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert wished the participants from various Welsh colleges and training providers well in their competitions at the NEC. He said: “This is an excellent opportunity for Wales to demonstrate the quality of its vocational skills development across many disciplines and for us to show that we can hold our own against the best in the country.”
He was supported by Barry Liles, Chair of the Skills Network and Wales Skills Champion who said: “It’s very important for our students and trainees in Wales to have the opportunity to pit their skills against peers from across the UK and the World. This sets a benchmark that encourages them to excel and show just how good they can be. I’ve every confidence that Welsh participants in the first Skills Show this week will do us proud.”