06 September 2011

WorldSkills competitors show way forward for engineering

Minister John Hayes talks to Findlay Media about Apprenticeships, craftsmanship and why he is a big fan of WorldSkills London 2011.

This October 1000 talented young people from over 55 countries will converge on London to demonstrate their skills in trades ranging from electronics to welding and hairdressing to landscape gardening. This remarkable 60 year old international event is hosted in a different country every two years. For the first time in 22 years, the UK is playing host to an event which will draw a crowd of 150,000 visitors over four days. Far more than entertainment – it is part of a national partnership between government and businesses to put the development and celebration of practical skills back at the heart of our national life.

As well as showcasing the best craftspeople from the UK and around the globe, the WorldSkills competition acts as a potent and timely reminder to young people that learning a skill opens up a wealth of career opportunities – including in engineering, manufacturing and electronics.

Team UK competitor, Andrew Fielding, is one of the inspirational young people who'll represent our country, and electronics this year. Andrew is employed by MBDA and has a Higher National Diploma in Electronics Engineering. He is passionate about engineering and believes that a combination of vocational qualifications and on-the-job experience is the foundation for a successful career.

Mori Seiki, Snap-On, KNX, MBDA and BAE Systems are already backing the next generation by sponsoring WorldSkills London 2011, either as event sponsors or participating employers. But businesses large and small throughout the country can give themselves – and our young people – a skills boost by investing in a new generation of apprentices.

The Government is investing in the biggest and best apprenticeships programme our country has ever seen: in my first year as Minister for Skills apprenticeship numbers have grown by over 114,000 – that's double our original benchmark and the biggest leap ever. By the end of this Parliament we'll have supported some 250,000 more apprenticeships than the previous Government's plans would have delivered. We've raised standards, given training providers more freedom to meet the needs of local businesses and reformed the system so more apprentices can progress to higher levels of achievement – even up to the equivalent of degree level..

Numbers of adult apprenticeships have already more than trebled in Engineering; and more than doubled in Management and IT. This summer the Government announced a £25m Higher Apprenticeships Fund which will support up to 10,000 advanced and higher apprenticeships in key growth sectors including engineering and advanced manufacturing.

There is more to do, not just to promote apprenticeships but to make it easier for more firms to participate in the skills drive that WorldSkills heralds. This autumn we'll announce further measures to reduce bureaucracy and provide simpler advice and guidance to enable more engineering and manufacturing firms of all sizes to say 'you're hired' to an apprentice.

This Government's strong commitment to practical learning will ensure that more young people than ever can follow Andrew's example. Together, we can put your important sector on a sustained course for growth, ensuring it represents the best of British innovation and craftsmanship.

John Hayes, Minister of State (Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning), Business, Innovation and Skills

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