Minister awaits WorldSkills legacy

Posted on 20 Jun 2011 by The Manufacturer

WorldSkills London 2011 came a step closer last week with the selection of Team UK but Skills Minister, John Hayes says the competition's success will not be proved until a legacy of industry engagement is assured.

At a series of event held over three days last week representative hoping to represent Team UK in the WolrdSkills competition 2011 pitted their talent against one another.

Categories for the WorldSkills competition, a prestigious bi-annual event, range from web design to landscape gardening and, with relevance to this magazine, in manufacturing skills from CAD engineering through robotics, CNC Milling and more. Teams from 50 countries are taking part and the grande finale of the competition will take place in October at the O2 Arena.

The purpose of WorldSKills to discern which nation is supporting the development of vocational skills most effectively. This year The Manufacturer magazine is proud to be official media partner to the manufacturing team challenge category.

National selection for the manufacturing team challenge took place at an event in Wrexam last week with the final two contestant team from BAE Systems and Betnley motors testing the abilities to the upmost.

TM spoke to Matthew Bell, director of CAD Skills UK. Bell is an adjudicator for the manufacturing team challenge and he described the demands of the competition: “The manufacturing team challenge demands skills in manufacturing, fabrication, CNC, assembly and design. It really represents the multidisciplinary nature of advanced manufacturing.”

In previous years the time allowance for completion of the manufacturing team challenge has been 22 hours. Projects have included the design manufacture and assembly of power generating exercise equipment, battery powered vehicles and mobile solar tracking units.

The results of last week’s competition will be announced on June 29 at the National Apprenticeship Awards along with the rest o the Team UK selections.

WorldSkills is designed to raise the profile of vocational skills and for manufacturing this issue could hardly be more topical. Alan Sugar’s comments on The Apprentice last week highlighted that there is still significant work to be done to change negative perception both of manufacturing as a career destination and of the capabilities of engineers.

In order to do this John Hayes, Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, who attended the Team UK selection events on Wednesday June 15, sees industry engagement as key. Hayes made it clear this engagement must be for the long term and not at simply for one off event like WorldSkills.

The Minister commented: “From an employer’s point of view this event is about supporting the one-off, the show case if you like, for what we do best [in Britain]. But it is also about considering what those skills mean for their business.

“By investing and recruiting good worker can become more productive and more competitive. Productivity and skills are closely linked and I think there is a growing realisation among businesses that by working with FE colleges and other training providers they can gain the competencies they need to succeed.”

Understanding just how to work with colleges seems to remain an issue however and has not been helped, according to one representative from Hinkley College, Warwickshire, by the closure of the government recruitment and advice service, Connexions.

The message from the Business Development team at Hinkley was clear; both educational institutions and employers must be pro active in communicating their needs and their ability to support appropriate curriculum development and work placements if skills are to be built effectively.