QMT Features: January 2011
WorldSkills London 2011
WorldSkills Competition 2011 will be a truly global showcase for young people from across the world. Held in London, it will provide a benchmark for training and performance in workplace skills. By Brendan Coyne.

WorldSkills  is the world’s largest, international skills competition where young people from across the globe compete to become the best of the best in their chosen skill. Taking place every two years in a different locations around the world, this year the competition is hosted by the UK and will take place at ExCeL London from 5-8 October 2011.   

Marketed by not-for-profit WorldSkills International, the mission for the competition to provide a unique means of exchange and comparison of world-class skills in the industrial trades and service sectors of the global economy. The organisers say WorldSkills London 2011 will amaze young people by showing them the endless possibilities their futures could hold and inspire them to gain expertise at the highest level which the country needs. The scale of WorldSkills London 2011 is enormous with hundreds of activities taking place in a space the size of ten Wembley football pitches. Over  150,000  visitors are expected to observe 1,000 competitors from 50 nations competing in 45 skill areas.The skills ranging from electronics to plumbing, creative arts and fashion to cabinet making.

The UK team for WorldSkills 2011, known as Squad UK, was announced at a House of Commons reception on November 24 2010. Jointly hosted by UK Skills and the National Skills Forum, the reception was attended by Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning minister, John Hayes MP.

Minister John Hayes said that by entering the WorldSkills Competition, the UK is able to benchmark standards of training and performance from around the world assisting the government in its priority of building an internationally competitive workforce. “For the young people who have been selected for the shortlist to represent this country in the world’s largest international skills competition, the next few months will be amongst the most important of their lives. The stakes are very high. With two or more people in the squad competing for each place in the team that will represent the UK at WorldSkills London 2011 the competition will be intense and deeply serious. Fortunately they will have the benefit of being coached by top vocational teachers and trainers who will help them perform to the maximum of their ability.

What WorldSkills demonstrates in the way that candidates are nurtured and stretched for the team-selection is that vocational learning at its best makes as great a demand as the best academic learning in terms of rigour, passion and ambition. As we countdown to WorldSkills London 2011 there will be plenty of opportunities for colleges and employers to get involved.

This is the first time in 20 years that WorldSkills has been hosted by the UK and the event provides a real opportunity to showcase the best of the best and inspire a wide range of young adults about the possibilities their futures may hold. Even if your organisation is not involved in skills competitions you can still take part – by visiting the event, hosting a trade exhibition, participating in the education and volunteering programmes, helping to organise ‘have a go' activities or by applying to become an ‘international showcase college.” Visitors to the event will discover how skills shape our world, get the chance to ‘have a go’ at a wide range of skills activities, and have an opportunity to talk to a range of experts about future career options and opportunities.

Squad UK selection
The UK is currently ranked 7th in the world after securing three Gold and six Bronze medals at the last WorldSkills Competition in Canada in 2009. This is an increase of four places from 2007 when the UK was ranked 11th. Team UK at WorldSkills London 2011 will the UK’s  biggest yet with around 40 competitors taking part in 35 skills.

The shortlist for Squad UK was largely drawn from the portfolio of over 50 WorldSkills UK regional and national skills competitions, managed by UK Skills in association with industry partners. In 2009, these competitions attracted over 5,500 competitors from colleges and industry and from those, a list of over 1,500 young people were identified as potential candidates, along with those identified in previous national competitions.

A final 120 were identified to compete at selection competitions held at various colleges and organisations across the UK in October and November 2010.
Each member of Squad UK completes around 100 hours of training, supported by a dedicated Training Manager to assist them in reaching an international standard in their chosen skill. Training programmes include competing at international competitions, psychological coaching and tuition from industry experts. - By the time they are chosen to compete at the event, each competitor will have  completed on average 100 days of training and assessment.

Manufacturing sponsorship
Partnering  the event is metrology company, Mitutoyo UK, who have signed an exclusive agreement with WorldSkills International as Bronze sponsors. Mitutoyo UK are supporting the Manufacturing (and Engineering) Technology section of the WorldSkills London 2011 as sole provider of measurement solutions, supplying some 400 measurement instruments and coordinate measuring machines. Mitutoyo measurement specialists and training Instructors will also be on-site throughout the event, assisting the adjudicators by measuring the work-pieces made by the competitors, and offering guidance to visitors on practical measurement applications and career options in the field of Metrology.

David Thomson, managing director of Mitutoyo UK Ltd explains: “Following successful involvement from Mitutoyo at Worldskills in Calgary, Canada in 2009 and Shizuoka, Japan in 2007, we were keen to get involved and support WorldSkills in London in 2011. Our company ethos has always been that in order to achieve the best in measurement, you need to invest in people, and so we are wholeheartedly investing in WorldSkills as it aims in inspire and inform the youth of today who will of course become the engineers of tomorrow.”

Over the next 10 months, Mitutoyo will be involved with a number of awareness events aimed at raising the profile of WorldSkills, supporting the National Team -Squad UK and working closely with the Workshop Supervisors as they plan out the details of each challenge for the competition.

Louise Ellison, marketing manager, explains why WorldSkills is so important to Mitutoyo: “Not many companies in our field of expertise can afford to dedicate the time or resources on events like WorldSkills, but that is what makes Mitutoyo so different. As a privately owned company we pride ourselves on our ability to support both community groups and international events alike, and WorldSkills is the perfect platform for Mitutoyo. Our engineers and training Instructors have many decades of experience between them, and they are keen to impart this knowledge to the next generation of future designers, machinists, metrologists and quality

UK Skills
Squad UK, managed by UK Skills, is supported by a number of key organisations: these are: Edge, an independent education foundation, Brathay Trust, a charity that works with young people throughout the UK, and City & Guilds which  is the Premier Sponsor of WorldSkills London 2011.

UK Skills, a not-for-profit organisation, manages the National Training Awards  and works on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to shine a spotlight on those who have made a difference to their organisation through training.

Since 2005, UK Skills has been defining standards and developing units of credit for exceptional performance. As a result, Star Units of credit, accredited by City & Guilds were piloted with high performing competitors during the 2009 /10

WorldSkills UK national competition cycle.
Jenny Shackleton, head of Skills Development at UK Skills outlines the developments, “Building on those foundations and Team UK’s success at the last WorldSkills Competition in Calgary 2009, in partnership with Brathay, we are launching a new range of qualifications in Performance Excellence. Initially these will be available to both Squad and Team UK for WorldSkills London 2011 alongside Training.”l
email: jenny.shackleton@ukskills.org.uk


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