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UK Gala Ceremony - Skills in 2009

Skills in 2009 – Predictions for the New Year

By Simon Bartley
Chief Executive, UK Skills

In just a couple of weeks we will be at the start of the tenth year of the new millennium.

What a challenging year we have in front of us as a nation! We are facing the toughest economic climate for several decades and with it comes tough questions, decisions and changes.

However, despite all this uncertainty, my hope is that 2009 will bring us plenty of things to celebrate and take courage from.

In my role as Chief Executive of UK Skills, I would like to make some predictions which I hope will keep training and skills firmly in the minds of business, politicians and the public at large.

UK Skills has the task of championing vocational skills and learning for work, a job we do primarily through the National Training Awards and skills competitions like WorldSkills.

Here are some of the things I hope to see over the next twelve months.

  • Further increase in National Training Award entries

This year we had a 28% increase in the number of entries in the National Training Awards. Training is usually the first thing to be cut by business during a recession, but I’m encouraged that there are still many organisations for whom training is an investment, not a cost. They have recognised the power of training to transform their businesses by increasing productivity, reducing costs, improving staff morale and boosting sales.

A further increase in National Training Award entries in 2009 will show a UK economy where training is not only valued, but seen as an integral way of helping companies cope with the complexities of the current environment.

  • A record medal haul

I enjoyed Team GB’s record medal sweep at the Beijing Olympics, but I am looking forward even more to seeing our young skills champions compete at the largest global skills competition on the planet next September.

WorldSkills Calgary 2009 will involve nearly a thousand young people from more than 50 countries competing in over 40 skills ranging from graphic design and floristry to welding and cabinet making. My hope is for Team UK to place in the top eight countries overall, and for our team of talented young people to bring home a few more medals than the gold, silver and two bronzes we picked up at the last event in Japan in 2007.

  • More young people entering skills competitions

This year we had more than 3,680 young people enter regional skills competitions that are run across the country under the banner of WorldSkills UK. I want to see that number rise to 5,000 in 2009.

Skills competitions provide young people with a chance to hone their skills, test themselves against their peers and even to represent their country. The majority of Team UK at WorldSkills London 2011 will be selected from young people who enter skills competition in 2009.

  • Continuing profile for skills

Skills have enjoyed an increasingly higher profile over recent years thanks to a government that recognises the key role skills have to play in ensuring a prosperous society.  Steps in the right direction have been taken through initiatives such as Train to Gain, increasing Apprenticeship numbers, and the Skills Pledge – which half of our 232 National Training Awards finalists this year had signed.

I hope that in 2009 many businesses will look to skills and training as a way to make the most of their most important asset:  their human capital. We are in danger of losing all the gains that we have made in terms of training and skills, simply because many businesses see training as a cost rather than as a tool that can transform them.

If we lose our skills, how then will we be able to take up opportunities when the economic cycle turns, let alone compete against the rest of the world?

Ends

For more information or to interview Simon Bartley contact:
Kathryn Crookenden, UK Skills
Ph. 020 7612 9261                  kathryn.crookenden@ukskills.org.uk

 

Notes to Editors

  • UK Skills (www.ukskills.org.uk) is a not-for-profit organisation which champions vocational skills and learning for work through awards and competitions.
  • UK Skills runs the National Training Awards (www.nationaltrainingaards.com) on behalf of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. The premier sponsor of the National Training Awards is City & Guilds. The Awards are also sponsored by CIPD and supported by Investors in People.
  • UK Skills also manages the UK’s entry into the biennial WorldSkills Competition. This is the world’s largest skills competition and involves a thousand young people from over 50 nations competing in different skills over four days.
  • The next WorldSkills Competitions are in Calgary, Canada, in 2009 and in London in 2011 (www.worldskillslondon2011.com). The independent educational foundation, Edge, is the official supporter of Squad UK and Team UK. Brathay supports Squad and Team UK development. WorldSkills London 2011 is supported by City & Guilds, Honda, UFI Learn Direct and Festo.

 

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