The National Finals of WorldSkills UK have taken place in Greater Manchester for the first time, showcasing the incredible talent of young people championing the UK skills sector.
WorldSkills UK uses international best practices to raise standards in apprenticeships and technical education, so more young people and employers succeed. The competition aims to inspire more young people, from all backgrounds, to see that an apprenticeship or technical education is a first-class route to success in work - and life.
The three-day event was also attended by industry leaders, educators and Government representatives, working together to support skills and vocational training and WorldSkills UK’s vital work to foster world-class skills to help propel the UK economy forward.
This week, more than 400 of the brightest students and apprentices, who won their place through regional qualifiers, competed in the National Finals in an array of disciplines such as additive manufacturing and cyber security at colleges, independent training providers and universities across Greater Manchester.
Ben Blackledge, WorldSkills UK CEO, said: “The event has been a huge success and is the culmination of 6,000 entries being whittled down to 429 finalists, who have won their place at the WorldSkills UK National Finals and competed across 51 categories.
“The young people that take part in our national programme are a true inspiration and demonstrate the skills we have in the UK. The event delivers two main things. First, it gives young people the chance to shine as they showcase their technical and employability skills in timed conditions. Secondly, it helps to develop high-quality skills by providing a benchmark for excellence.
“At WorldSkills UK, we strive to bring technical skills up to an international standard to help meet the needs of business, to attract investment, and to create more life-changing opportunities for young people.
“We have had a fantastic welcome from the people, colleges and universities of Greater Manchester. And congratulations to our winners, who will now have the opportunity to join the WorldSkills UK international development programme with the chance to compete globally at WorldSkills 2026 in Shanghai.’’
Alongside the National Finals, there was also a business brunch where crucial conversations took place about fostering world-class skills to propel the UK economy forward, gaining insights from industry leaders and experts.
Abigail, an apprentice at BAE Systems and Richard Hamer MBE, HR Director, Education and Skills at BAE Systems, joined the panel.
Abigail, who works as a toolmaker at BAE Samlesbury, was a Bronze Medal Winner at the 2019 National Finals and a Finalist in WorldSkills 2022 in Germany. She fervently promotes apprenticeships and vocational qualifications as a career route for young people.
Now 24 and embarking on a degree at UCLAN, she said: “I’m a hands-on person who likes to learn practically, so I found that doing an apprenticeship was the best path for me to take.’’
Abigail felt that she developed her skills through competing in the event. She added: “WorldSkills UK competitions have taught me to be proud of the journey I have completed. I have a new-found confidence in my skill, which directly links to my day-to-day job.”
Richard Hamer, who was also on the panel, said BAE Systems is passionate about improving skills.
He said: “BAE Systems’ apprenticeship programme aims to equip young people with the skills they need to set up for a rewarding career with the opportunity to do important work, delivering programmes and equipment which will help protect the UK for decades to come,” he said.
“The WorldSkills UK event is really important to us at BAE Systems. We’ve always been passionate about skills and we are proud to be a business partner and be included in the event. At BAE Systems we have more than 3,000 apprentices for a range of different levels from level 2 to level 7 and there are more than 50 programmes.
“The bulk of those apprenticeships are level 3 programmes so you can join directly from school. And a third are the higher degree apprenticeships so rather than take a traditional university route, you can take an apprenticeship and be employed as well as study for a degree. A total of 70 per cent of our trainees are in the North West and we want them to be their very best.’’
Get in touch
To find out more about WorldSkills UK visit www.worldskillsuk.org
To find out more about BAE Systems’ apprenticeship programme www.baesystems.com/apprentices