The huge scale of WorldSkills London: one tiny section: the autorepair competition station. Photo (c) WorldSkills International

Held every two years, the WorldSkills International Competition is the greatest vocational education and skills excellence competition in the world.

It brings together the best of the best of the world's under 25 year olds to compete for medals in vocational skills. With the top sponsors including major global companies including Samsung, Stanley Black & Decker, Cisco, Siemens and 3M, and with 75 member countries and regions eligible to compete, it is often dubbed the "Skills Olympics".

Wales competes as part of the UK team. Thanks to investment by the Welsh Government, particularly through the Coleg Sir Gar-led Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales project; support from ColegauCymru, NTfW, further education and training providers, and employers of apprentices; and of course the dedication of talented competitors, Wales is punching above its weight in numbers competing in the pre-selection competitions and in the numbers making it into the UK squad for the biennial WorldSkills International.

Around a third of those taking part in skills competitions in Wales are apprentices. The majority are college learners. A small number are supported directly by their employers.

The next WorldSkills takes place in Abu Dhabi in 2017 from 14-19 October.

Squad selection for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 started at The Skills Show in Birmingham in November 2015.

That was where WorldSkills UK competition finals were held, with 82 competitors from Wales among the 650 young people from across the UK battling it out over 20 hours of competitions in specialist skills. Wales came home with a total of 29 medals – ten gold, seven silver, twelve bronze, plus with 16 highly commended awards. These include the medals for the first ever Inclusive Skills competitions to be held at The Skills Show.

It was also there that 20 individuals from Wales were named as part of the long squad of 153 that will potentially represent the UK at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017.

Squad members are now undergoing specialist training including pressure testing at a range of competitions.

The Wales 20 in Squad UK

Competition Competitor Learning Support
Aeronautical Engineering: Mechanical Joseph Massey Coleg Cambria
Aeronautical Engineering: Mechanical William Hughes Coleg Cambria / Raytheon
Aeronautical Engineering: Mechanical Philip Broodbank Coleg Cambria
Automotive Refinishing Kyle Saunders Coleg Gwent
Beauty Therapy Samantha Adams Coleg Cambria
Carpentry Benjamin Allen Coleg Sir Gar
CNC Milling Ethan Davies Coleg Cambria
Electrical Installation Daniel Griffin Coleg Gwent
Hairdressing Ashleigh Marie Simmons
Plastering and Drywall Systems Gethin Jones Grwp Llandrillo Menai
Web Development Nathan Jones NPTC Group of Colleges
Web Development Alfie Hopkin Coleg Sir Gar
Restaurant Service Elizabeth Forkuoh Coleg Sir Gar
Restaurant Service Ryan Kenyon Marriott Hotel
Manufacturing Team Challenge 1 (CSG) Bruno Forkuoh Coleg Sir Gar
Manufacturing Team Challenge 1 (CSG) James Stallard Coleg Sir Gar
Manufacturing Team Challenge 1 (CSG) Jamie Davies Coleg Sir Gar
Industrial Control 3 (IAC) Sam Scott Industrial Automation Control (IAC)
Visual Merchandising Amy Greatrex University of South Wales
Visual Merchandising Hannah Morgan University of South Wales

The last WorldSkills took place in São Paulo, Brazil in 2015 at the largest conference venue in Latin America. It was a sight to behold, with 1,189 competitors, 260,000 visitors including government Ministers, Deputies and senior officials from large number of countries including Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, South Korea, and more than 800 accredited press from around the world, including the UK's BBC, broadcasting, photographing, livestreaming and publishing from the competition.

Wales was there!

Four Team UK training managers and experts were drawn from Wales’ colleges: Ian Thompson, CNC Milling, of Grwp Llandrillo Menai; Mike David, Web Design, of Coleg Sir Gar; Gareth Evans, Carpentry, of Pembrokeshire College; and Wyn Pritchard, Manufacturing Team Challenge, formerly of Coleg Cambria.

In addition, four of the 40-strong Team UK competitors were from Wales: Luke Elsmore (Industrial Control), Owain Jones (Carpentry), Eleni Constantinou (Hairdressing), and Elijah Sumner (Auto Technology). The Welsh four brought back three Medallions of Excellence, helping the UK achieve its best ever WorldSkills medal tally. In total, the UK team won eight medals and 25 medallions of excellence. UK was 7th on the leader board – the second highest placed European nation.

Key Links

Storify of Wales at WorldSkills 2015

WorldSkills São Paulo 2015

Foundation to WorldSkills in Wales

Skills Competition Wales offers students, trainees and apprentices in Wales a chance to challenge, benchmark and raise their skills by taking part in local competitions across a range of sectors. These skills competitions are free to enter and typically run throughout February and March each year. They are funded by the Welsh Government, planned by Wales' Skills Network, and delivered by colleges across Wales.

Competitors who do well in Skills Competition Wales are encouraged to enter further competitions, such as the WorldSkills UK competitions. For the 2016 competition cycle, Wales is expected to register just short of 400 competitors in WorldSkills UK competitions out of a likely total of over 3,000 registered across the UK.

Success in WorldSkills UK regional competitions can lead to an invitation to compete at the WorldSkills UK finals, most of which are held at The Skills Show in Birmingham each November.

17 – 19 November 2016
NEC, Birmingham

The Skills Show is the nation’s largest skills and careers event and helps to shape the future of a new generation. Attracting over 75,000 visitors annually, the show hosts the WorldSkills UK competition finals and also provides hands-on experiences to inspire young people to explore careers and the world of work.

Registration for visitors is free.

Join us in supporting the Welsh contingent.

Key links:

The Skills Show

WorldSkills Wales

News & Press contact

For all media enquiries, please contact:

Claire Roberts
External Affairs Director

T: 02920 522 500
M: 07534 859426

The Competition Journey

With funding from the Welsh Government and support by ColegauCymru, NTfW and the Coleg Sir Gar-led Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales project, colleges and the wider further education and training sector develop our most highly skilled young people through to the highest level of skills competitions in the world.

Congratulations to all of Wales' competitors and their trainers and supporters who work so hard in honing their skills, and making it through to WorldSkills UK, EuroSkills and WorldSkills competitions and raising Wales' supply of skills at the same time.

Team Wales Hall of Fame

Every year, hundreds of ambitious students, trainees and apprentices across the UK get involved in skills competitions (such as WorldSkills UK and Skills Competition Wales). These competitions test who has the ability to be a champion. And for those who've got what it takes, career stardom awaits.

Click the video for a message from some of those who have successfully made it into the Team Wales 'Hall of Fame'.

Be a champion!

Credits: 'Hall of Fame', The Script. Written by O'Donoghue/Sheehan/Frampton/Bar. Published by Imagem Music.