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WorldSkills UK gold medallist Danny McBean

Martin McGuire, Director for Scotland of WorldSkills UK explains how successful Scotland has been at WorldSkills National finals in 2023 but wants to build on that success.

WorldSkills, a global movement of 86 countries including Germany, France, China, India and Brazil, provides a valuable mechanism for benchmarking the quality of skills. Through its competition-based assessment of young people’s skills against global industry standards, we can compare skill levels in Scotland and across the UK and importantly bring that international best practice back home.

That is why the involvement of Scottish colleges, universities and independent training providers in the WorldSkills UK National Competition programme is so important. At the most recent National Finals, held in November 2023 at venues across Greater Manchester, Scotland once again triumphed with New College Lanarkshire and City of Glasgow College securing two of the top three places. Overall, Scottish institutions took home 24 medals including nine gold medals. Medals were won by New College Lanarkshire, City of Glasgow College, Edinburgh College, Perth College UHI, North East Scotland College, UHI Moray and SECTT.

Scotland’s fantastic achievement in the WorldSkills UK National Finals recognises the high level of teaching and standards within our institutions. This is also reflected in the international success that Scotland has achieved in recent years. At the latest WorldSkills event in 2022, Scotland brought back four Medallions for Excellence, which are awarded to those who reach the world class standard in their skill. This saw Scotland deliver its best ever result in digital skills, beating countries including China, Germany and Singapore. It also saw UHI Moray achieve its first international success when its apprentice Connor Cruden secured a Medallion for Excellence in the Plumbing and Heating category. Most recently, Michael McGuire, Training Manager for Digital Construction and lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University, secured a gold medal at EuroSkills Gdansk 2023 with his competitor. He is now training competitors for WorldSkills Lyon 2024, which takes place this September.

While it is essential that we properly celebrate the national and international success of our students and apprentices, and the commitment and skill of the teaching staff who deliver their training, we must also use it to inspire and develop the ongoing delivery of skills in Scotland.

This was the thinking behind the launch of the WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence, which we run in partnership with NCFE. Our Training Managers, many of whom work and trained at institutions in Scotland, share a passion for passing on the knowledge they gain from their international WorldSkills peers. In establishing our Centre of Excellence, we are successfully transferring the expertise that we have built up over many years of international competition success to educators across Scotland. This will help achieve world-class standards so often talked about and expected, including in the growth sectors of digital, net-zero and advanced manufacturing.

At WorldSkills Lyon 2024 we hope to see strong participation from Scotland, but we also want all educators in Scotland to benefit from the learnings we gain. That is why we are encouraging all colleges to join the WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence so they can access and utilise the insights gained at the competition. Working together, we can upskill more young people to reach the higher standards employers need to create more jobs and drive economic growth.

Register for free to join the WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence for free.

The WorldSkills UK National Competition Programme opens on 26 February.

Martin McGuire, Director, Scotland, WorldSkills UK