Salford to be co-host of UK's biggest skills competition

Categories: School of Science, Engineering and Environment

The UK’s top students and apprentices will be going for gold in Greater Manchester this autumn after the region was chosen to host the prestigious WorldSkills UK National Finals.

Nine venues - including colleges, universities, including Salford University, and independent training providers - will play host to over 50 finals with 500 competitors from all over the UK competing from 14-17 November*.

From aircraft maintenance at Wigan and Leigh College to Industry 4.0 at the University of Salford, via landscaping in Oldham and 3D digital game art at The Manchester College, young people across the region will have the opportunity to witness the spectacle and drama of the finals.

The celebration of world-class skills will culminate in the announcement of the winners at a glittering awards ceremony on Friday 17 November at The Bridgewater Hall.

The news of the finals being held in Greater Manchester comes a week after Mayor Andy Burnham launched proposals for a Greater Manchester Baccalaureate (MBacc) to improve access to technical education courses in the region. 

The announcement comes at a time the Greater Manchester Institute of Technology (GMIoT) has opened at the University of Salford's Peel Park Campus. The development will offer a range of courses, including new Higher Technical Qualifications, Higher National Diplomas and apprenticeships, as well as digital and technical skills boot camps and short courses designed to fast track learners into jobs in growth sectors for Greater Manchester.

WorldSkills UK Interim CEO Ben Blackledge said: “We are delighted to be bringing the National Finals to Greater Manchester this autumn. With 50 finals spread over nine venues there will be something for everyone.

“As well as boosting young people’s personal skills and developing the skills that employers and the economy needs, events like the WorldSkills UK National Finals shine a light on the vital importance of high-quality skills to the UK and the vast talent and potential we have in the next generation.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “The WorldSkills UK competitions are a brilliant way for students and apprentices to develop their skills and push themselves to be the very best they can.

“We are working hard in Greater Manchester to create opportunities for young people to develop high-level technical skills. WorldSkills UK along with the idea of a Greater Manchester Baccalaureate for technical education are helping us achieve our ambitious plans to ensure young people in the city-region are given the tools they need to achieve their career aspirations.

“We are all really excited that we will be welcoming students and apprentices from across the UK to showcase the very best of their skills and inspire young people in the region.”

Paul Ward Director of International and Regional Development at the University of Salford, said: “It is great for the region to be getting these finals and it is a great fit for Salford in particular. We have long championed the value of skills and technical education. Just last week we launched our brand new multi-million pound Institute of Technology aimed at developing the skilled workforce the economy of the future will require.

“We’re part of a network of 21 Institutes of Technology across the country and we are all charged with increasing the range and scope of technical education and ensuring there are good pathways into degrees, PhDs and work.

“So we’re delighted to be part of the UK National Finals of World Skills.”

The competitions are a seven-month process including regional heats and intensive training before stepping up to the ultimate test of the National Finals in November. Young people are full of praise for the competitions with the vast majority (97%) of previous entrants saying taking part improved their technical skills and 93% saying they improved their personal and employability skills.

Designed by industry experts, the competitions even provide a salary boost. Research by Frontier Economics found that young people who have been involved with WorldSkills UK competitions earn around 60% more than their peers who have not taken part.

As well as the nine Greater Manchester venues, Fanuc will host the industrial robotics final at an open house event at its UK head office in Coventry from 14-16 November.

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.