Semta's Chief Executive Ann Watson shares her views on the latest news, policy, issues and events of interest to the engineering and advanced manufacturing sector. 


Wednesday, 01 March 2017 00:00

WorldSkills UK competitions - a great showcase for the best of British engineering

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WorldSkills UK skills competition entries will open on Wednesday March 1st – and the hunt for the next wave of WorldSkills Team UK competitors will begin in earnest. Semta, as the not-for-profit skills champion for the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector, is proud to once again be the organising partner for the engineering suite of competitions. We support the competitions because we believe they offer a much-needed and deserved platform to talented young people who represent the very best of our sector.

They also prove that elite engineering skills are every bit as impressive and as valuable as elite academic skills. We need to remember that the UK engineering sector is facing a severe skills shortage, with one estimate putting the number of engineers needed at more than a million over five years. One of the reasons for the continuing skills shortage is the perception of engineering, and of technical skills in general, as being less impressive and less worthy than more academic pursuits. Success in skills competitions requires not just a steady hand, but a sharp mind and a flair for creativity – attributes which are much needed across the engineering sector.

Despite our problems with skills supply, UK engineering remains a world-class sector and success in a WorldSkills UK engineering competition offers ambitious young British and Northern Irish engineers the opportunity to fly the flag abroad. Shayne Hadland’s success propelled him to a silver medal in aircraft maintenance at WorldSkills Sao Paulo 2015. His achievement at the ‘Skills Olympics’ have since led to him being awarded an MBE. Make no mistake – competing at such a high level requires a level of talent and skill every bit as impressive as that of an Olympic athlete. Yet before competing at the 2013 Skills Show, Shayne was one of many engineering apprentices with the Royal Air Force. His story demonstrates why we encourage anyone who thinks they have the aptitude to do it to go for it. It also shows why it’s a good idea for employers and assessors to encourage their apprentices to get involved – it reflects very well on them, and it offers would-be apprentices a great reason to choose to work for them.

Competitions can be a brilliant showcase for the strength in diversity that exists within engineering, too. A host of impressive young women tasted success in engineering competitions in 2016, with six of the seven female finalists walking away with medals, and their success will hopefully inspire more to get involved this year. With just 3% of engineering apprenticeships being started by females, and with only 9% of the engineering workforce being female, WorldSkills UK competitions offer talented females a real platform to demonstrate that the sector is open to anyone with the right talent and the desire to go far. (Winning at the Skills Show also gives you something to put on your Semta Skills Award entry that will help you to stand out from the crowdand your evidence can count against your NVQ and apprenticeship portfolio!)

So, my message to aspiring young engineers everywhere is this: If you have the skills and the desire, you have to apply for WorldSkills UK’s 2017 skills competitions. Best of luck – and, all being well, hopefully I’ll see you in Kazan, Russia 2019 for the 45th WorldSkills Competition!

Click here to find out more about the engineering skills competitions and to register to compete.  


Read 1900 times Last modified on Monday, 06 March 2017 12:50