A 31-strong UK team flies out to Montreal this weekend for the 35th World Skills Competition.
The four-day event, better known as the Skills Olympics, is organised by the International Vocational Training Organisation (IVTO). Taking place every two years, it is a showpiece for young workers from 32 countries to display talents in trades as disparate as floristry, wall and floor tiling and mechatronics.
Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded in each trade at the end of the competition. Diplomas of excellence can also be won for attaining a recognised international standard in certain skills.
`This is a unique forum for UK business – a chance for our most talented young employees to put their vocational skills to the test in a challenging international setting,’ says Patricia Snell, chief executive of UK Skills, the body which manages the UK entry to the competition. `It plays a vital role in placing vocational skills high on the international agenda.’
Engineering and manufacturing account for about a third of the 30 categories in which the UK has entered.
The competitors, aged up to 22 years-old, have gained their places on the team through national competitions. UK-based manufacturers with staff taking part in the Skills Olympics include Forgemasters, Allied Signal and Ford.
The UK team went through briefing sessions at the Construction Industry Training Board’s National Construction College in June and took part in an outdoor team-building course in Cumbria.
The number of UK entrants in the engineering and manufacturing categories has increased for this year’s competition, with competitors in mechatronics, CNC milling and computer-aided design.
At the last Skills Olympics in Switzerland, the UK’s only medal in manufacturing categories was a silver in the Automobile Technology competition. British entrants won only four medals overall in the event. It would be a great encouragement to the UK’s engineering sector to see British competitors improve on that tally in Montreal.