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Boosting the skills of the UK workforce

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Oleksandr Pupko

Joe Sheppard

Brand and Marketing Manager, CSL Group

Rachel Kenning

Technical Support Engineer and Apprentice Mentor, FANUC UK

Richard Marsh

Apprenticeship Partnerships Director, Kaplan

A diverse skilled workforce is a key challenge for businesses around the UK and finding a way to rectify it, both now and for the future, is vital.

Few would disagree that a collaborative approach is needed to boost the quality of skills across the nations and sectors if the UK is going to develop a world-class skills economy. 

Many employers are realising the vital role they can play in raising the quality of skills and recognising the importance of raising the profile of their sector to attract the next generation.

Real-world skills that businesses need 

This is a core reason why many prestigious employers are partnering with WorldSkills UK to run national competitions. With the help of industry experts, the competitions equip apprentices and learners with the real-world skills that businesses need. 

As well as standardising training excellence, the competitions help build awareness of specific technical professions and highlight their appeal to a wider range of young people in a formative stage of their career planning. For CSL, one of the partners for the Electronic Security Systems competition, that is key. 

“Our sector has a lack of engineers, which is a problem for everyone from people like us in the supply chain to the installation companies all the way up to the customer,” says Joe Sheppard, Brand and Marketing Manager. “As a manufacturer and supplier for the security industry, we’ve been supporting both Apprentices for Fire and Security and WorldSkills UK competitions for some time as we know it helps raise the industry’s profile and standards.”

We’re confident that the competitions will allow us to showcase the range and hopefully we’ll inspire lots of young people to get involved.

Engaging young people in new careers 

“Not many people aged 15-17 are really aware of the opportunities within the security sector. We’re confident that the competitions will allow us to showcase the range and hopefully we’ll inspire lots of young people to get involved,” says Joe. 

Rachel Kenning, Technical Support Engineer and Apprentice Mentor at FANUC UK, partner to the Industrial Robotics competition, agrees that competitions help the sector engage young people as they consider their careers.

“WorldSkills UK competitions raise an awareness in young people of the work that we do and the variety of applications our products can be used for. It also showcases the different roles, entry routes and career paths that can be followed in the engineering industry,” she says. “It’s also a way to change the outdated perception of engineering being a ‘dirty’ job only suitable for men.”

Bridging the gap between classroom and real world 

By getting involved in the competitions, forward-thinking employers can bridge the divide between the classroom and the real world. Rachel believes employers can have invaluable input around new processes and technologies. “By working closely with educators and training providers, we can support and guide them to ensure the information they’re passing on is up-to-date and relevant,” she says. 

As the largest apprenticeship provider in the financial sector, Kaplan trains over 10,000 apprentices every year. It developed the Accountancy Technician competition with WorldSkills UK, a team competition aimed at apprentices. 

“Our involvement includes and goes beyond running the Accountancy Technician competition to engage young people – we’re having a much wider discussion about excellence, quality and equity, diversity and inclusion. But the competition remains core to this,” says Richard Marsh, Kaplan’s Apprenticeship Partnerships Director.

He says it is Kaplan’s mission to open the accountancy profession to all sections of society and parts of the UK. “Through the relationship with WorldSkills UK we’ve been able to share information and views with other organisations around the UK, such as Welsh and Scottish universities and colleges, that we would never have had contact with.”

WorldSkills UK’s competition-based training programmes are one way that employers can offer opportunities to young people and ensure they’re proactively topping up the talent pipeline and boosting skills excellence.

WorldSkills UK competition partners

Accountancy Technician (Kaplan)
Digital Construction (Autodesk)
Cyber Security (Palo Alto Networks)
Electronic Security Systems (CSL, Hikvision, Texecom Ltd)
Industrial Robotics (Fanuc UK Ltd)
Laboratory Technician (Royal Society of Chemistry, Institute of Physics)
Bricklaying (St Modwen)

For more information about how to work with WorldSkills UK please email [email protected]

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