UK’s biggest skills competition comes to Lanarkshire

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They're widely known as the ‘skills Olympics’ – and they’re coming to Lanarkshire.

New College Lanarkshire has been chosen as a venue for the 2021 national finals of WorldSkills UK.

The College’s Motherwell Campus will host students and apprentices from across the UK as they compete for gold, silver or bronze medals in their chosen skills discipline.

The contest is normally staged annually at Birmingham’s NEC exhibition centre, but this year will be held at 23 venues in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Seven of the competition’s 64 disciplines will be staged in Motherwell Campus. These will be held over the course of two days, from November 17th–18th. The disciplines are:

A total of 24 finalists have been selected to represent New College Lanarkshire in the 2021 finals, 22 of whom will be competing at its Motherwell Campus.

A further two students will compete in Commercial Make-up and Electronic Security Systems, with those finals being held at Coleg Cambria in Wales and Skills for Security Offices in Cheshire respectively.

New College Lanarkshire has claimed the title of ‘Best in the UK’ at WorldSkills UK’s national finals in 2013, 2014 and 2019, in addition to finishing in the top three places in 2015, 2017 and 2018. There were no WorldSkills UK regional qualifiers or finals held in 2020 due to the pandemic.

More than 3,000 candidates registered to take part in the UK-wide competitions back in March. Once the 400-plus finalists have demonstrated their skills in the national finals, the winners will be unveiled at a ceremony hosted by TV presenter Steph McGovern from her Packed Lunch studio on Friday 26th November.

City of Glasgow College is the only other Scottish venue hosting the WorldSkills UK 2021 finals. It will stage the disciplines of Confectionery and Patisserie, Culinary Arts, and Restaurant Service.

Ben Blackledge, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of WorldSkills UK, said: “We are really excited to be taking the show on the road this year with finals hosted by colleges, training providers and employers across the UK. We hope seeing the finals live will inspire more young people to keep developing their skills and recognise what can be achieved in developing excellence through skills.

“After a year without competitions due to the pandemic, it was really encouraging to see so many people competing in the qualifying rounds. I want to offer my congratulations to all those that took part and wish the competitors at New College Lanarkshire the best of luck for the finals.

“Our competitions and competition-based development programmes equip apprentices and students with the lifelong, world-class skills that will help increase UK productivity and competitiveness.”

Professor Christopher Moore, Principal and Chief Executive at New College Lanarkshire, said: “The WorldSkills UK finals in Birmingham have become a highpoint of the academic calendar for our students and staff, so to be chosen as one of the venues to host the devolved 2021 finals is a great honour for us, as it closely aligns with our core value of bringing education closer.

“We are proud to have 24 finalists representing New College Lanarkshire who have risen to the challenge of competing under the unusual circumstances posed by the last year, all the while supported by a team of dedicated lecturers.

“I look forward to extending a very warm welcome to students and apprentices from across the UK as they compete in seven, digital skills-based disciplines at our Motherwell Campus next month. Given the success of NCL alumni who have gone on to win accolades at WorldSkills competitions internationally, we are happy to have this opportunity to put Lanarkshire at the heart of a global skills community.”

The WorldSkills UK competition-based development programmes are designed by industry experts and enhance the practical skills and knowledge taught on training courses by assessing an individual’s employability attributes against set criteria in a competitive timed environment.

In September 2020, New College Lanarkshire became one of two colleges in Scotland selected to be part of the WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence initiative.

The Centre of Excellence, which is organised in partnership with education and skills charity NCFE, has been established to mainstream world-class standards in skills development in the UK.

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