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WorldSkills: extra funding needed to keep Team UK on top of the world

WorldSkills: extra funding needed to keep Team UK on top of the world

Funding for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi ‘at tipping point’ despite record EuroSkills success


EuroSkills 2016 has been a competition to remember for Team UK, with its representatives returning from Gothenburg in Sweden with a record haul of medalsBut the organisation behind the UK’s successful campaign has warned that a series of funding cuts have left it at a “tipping point”.


Carole Stott, chair of WorldSkills UK, told TES that, without additional financial support from the government, the body would struggle to replicate this success at WorldSkills, the biggest international skills contest, which takes place in Abu Dhabi next year. Figures obtained by TES show that core government grants for WorldSkills UK have dropped by almost half over the past four years, from £15 million in 2012-13 to £8.1 million in 2016-17.

“We are at a tipping point,” Ms Stott said. “We have had significant cuts in funding over the last few years, as has everybody else. We couldn’t continue to deliver the integrated model that we have, with the impact it has, if it is cut any further.

“We have Abu Dhabi next year, and that will require additional investment. We have got to get a team to Abu Dhabi, and we don’t know what our settlement is going to be. From the modelling we have done, I don’t think we could do the big international competition, get a strong team to Abu Dhabi, with everything that involves, and run an integrated show on exactly the same funding we had last year.”

The warning comes after the UK recorded its strongest ever EuroSkills results in Sweden. After three days of competition against peers from 34 nations, UK competitors won gold in two disciplines, silver in another and bronze in two more.

In addition to these medals, 18-year-old Daniel McCabe won gold in 3D game design – a demonstration skill included at EuroSkills for the first time.

'A modest investment with a huge impact'

WorldSkills UK, formerly known as Find a Future, runs regional and national skills competitions, including the annual Skills Show. It supports UK participants taking part in the biennial EuroSkills and WorldSkills contests, as well as conducting research and operating role-model schemes and careers events.

About 60 per cent of WorldSkills UK’s funding comes from government, with the rest provided by private companies.

“We wouldn’t attract the other investment without that government funding,” Ms Stott, who is also chair of the Association of Colleges, told TES. “We can grow the impact of what we do with more support. Actually, this is a very modest investment with a huge impact…which is actually really very profound and has never been more important than it is now.”

WorldSkills UK chief executive Neil Bentley said that, with Brexit on the horizon, the country had more work to do in order to develop the skills it needed. “What you see at EuroSkills not only shows how the UK is doing, it really brings home the fact we are competing economically,” he added. “It is about demonstrating the level of standard and competence but it is also about how we take that learning back into the system."

A Department for Educations spokesperson said: “We are delivering high quality academic education and ensuring young people have the skills that our economy and employers need. There are always competing priorities for public spending and future funding for WorldSkills UK will be decided in due course.”



Article Courtesy of TES (www.tes.com)

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