Shot in the arm for youth

Published:  22 September, 2020

A breakthrough approach to training young people was launched recently, bringing world class skills to tens of thousands of apprentices and students at colleges across the UK, in a game-changing development aimed at combating the economic impact of Covid - 19.

WorldSkills UK, the education and skills charity, has joined forces with NCFE, a leading provider of educational services, to use its unique insights in global skills systems and track record of training young people to world-class standards at the ‘skills olympics’ to help more young people throughout the UK and their employers succeed.

Speaking at the Centre of Excellence’s national launch at Trafford College, Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE, CEO (pictured) of WorldSkills UK said:

“Make no mistake, this is a milestone moment. Governments have asked leaders in further education to fast track change and recalibrate to deliver a skills-led recovery and we have answered the call.

“This is a radical new way of working with college leaders to bring global best practice to local economies and level up skills across the country – ensuring that we can embed international standards into training programmes and deliver what employers need in order to kick-start the economy.

“This is just the start – our ambition over the next three years is to lead the way in developing world-class skills and tackling vocational snobbery head on. We will be delivering higher quality training to create more prestige for apprenticeships and technical qualifications for all young people, including in areas of social and economic disadvantage to help boost career aspirations and social mobility.”

A team of high-performance skills coaches, who have all worked at the highest international level, have been brought in to drive forward the programme.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “We are working to transform further education in this country. Covid-19 has had huge impact on the entire country particularly young people and the sector has done a fantastic job helping young people continue their studies during this challenging time.

“This innovative partnership with WorldSkills UK and NCFE will ensure young people receive the best vocational training possible and help businesses have access to the talented workforce they need to rebuild after Covid-19.”

“I look forward to hearing more about this exciting project.”

The initial three-year project saw over a quarter of all FE Colleges apply to be part of the first year of the Centre of Excellence, which will see over 40,000 young people benefit from this training, boosting their employability skills and potential. In total 160 colleges and independent training institutions are set to benefit from the injection of international standards in the first three years of the Centre of Excellence.

A further 35 colleges from across the UK have been invited this year to join the new WorldSkills UK Innovation Network and will have access to international best practice and benchmarking to drive up standards and embed curriculum innovation with the opportunity to access further development support from the Centre of Excellence in year two and three of the pilot.

Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE, CEO of WorldSkills UK added: “There has been such appetite from college leaders to mainstream excellence in their training that we have set up this new network to enable us to help ensure even more young people can benefit from the highest international standards of training.”

David Gallagher, chief executive at NCFE, commented: “Skills change the lives of young people. They build self-esteem and release potential, create opportunities and build stronger communities, and are the foundation of economic and social progress, which is why we are thrilled to be partnering with WorldSkills UK on this revolutionary and timely project.

“As the economic impact of Covid-19 becomes fully evident, it’s clear that we must do all we can to support young people and provide them with access to high-quality education and training to equip them with the knowledge, skills and mindset to make the most of opportunities when the economy and labour market recovers.

“By providing much needed investment in technical educators through the Centre of Excellence, we will mainstream international best practice into programme delivery. We are raising the bar for technical teaching and helping to create a cohort of highly skilled, employment-ready young people who can positively contribute to the workforce as we strive to rebuild the UK economy. The impact of this project will resonate for years to come and has the potential to inspire and create the next generation of world-class educators and learners, whilst creating a prestige for apprenticeships and technical teaching which will both positively impact the economy and promote social mobility.”

The WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence will cover four strands of work:

• Train the Trainer: A team of high-performance skills coaches will work with college staff to deliver a professional workforce training programme to transform the quality of teaching, learning and assessment embedding world-class practices and techniques.


• Digital Workshops: Learning library to translate lessons from world-class practices available to all FE Colleges and Independent Training Providers throughout the UK.

• Developing Standards: WorldSkills UK’s unique insights into global skills systems will be used to influence change in higher technical standards across qualifications and assessment development.


• Dissemination of global insight: WorldSkills UK will conduct independent research to explore how other countries embed teaching excellence in their skills systems, with an emphasis on policy and practical lessons which can be adopted in the UK to improve standards.

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