Colleges for new Centre of Excellence revealed

Colleges in WorldSkills UK initiative will help give tens of thousands of young people access to 'world-class' training

Tes Reporter

Skills boost: WorldSkills UK has announced the colleges that will be involved in the first year of the Centre of Excellence

The colleges that will be involved in a new initiative supporting world-class standards in skills training have been announced.

WorldSkills UK’s list of the 20 institutions that will be part of its new Centre of Excellence in the first year includes colleges from England, Wales and Scotland. A quarter of all FE colleges applied to be part of the scheme, according to WorldSkills UK, which will see over 40,000 young people benefit from this training.

In the first three years, a total of 160 colleges and independent training institutions are set to benefit from the scheme. WorldSkills UK has joined forces with awarding organisation the NCFE for the initiative.

Background: WorldSkills UK unveils £1.5m Centre of Excellence

Listen: Can WorldSkills transform education?

Tes magazine: How WorldSkills trainers could raise standards across FE

A further 35 colleges from across the UK have been invited this year to join the new WorldSkills UK Innovation Network and will have access to international best practice and benchmarking to drive up standards and embed curriculum innovation. 

The Centre of Excellence will offer a “train the trainers” system, whereby a team of high-performance skills coaches will work with college staff to deliver a professional workforce training programme. Digital workshops will provide a “learning library” to all FE colleges and independent training providers throughout the UK, while WorldSkills UK’s insight into the global skills system will be used to influence change in higher technical standards. Independent research by the organisation will explore how other countries embed teaching excellence in their skills systems.

Delivering 'world-class' skills

WorldSkills UK hopes the Centre of Excellence will bring world-class skills to tens of thousands of apprentices and students at colleges across the UK, in “a game-changing development aimed at combating the economic impact of Covid-19”.

Launching the initiative at Trafford College, WorldSkills UK chief executive Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann said: “Make no mistake, this is a milestone moment. Governments have asked leaders in further education to fast track change and recalibrate to deliver a skills-led recovery and we have answered the call.

“This is a radical new way of working with college leaders to bring global best practice to local economies and level up skills across the country – ensuring that we can embed international standards into training programmes and deliver what employers need in order to kickstart the economy.

“This is just the start – our ambition over the next three years is to lead the way in developing world-class skills and tackling vocational snobbery head on. We will be delivering higher quality training to create more prestige for apprenticeships and technical qualifications for all young people, including in areas of social and economic disadvantage to help boost career aspirations and social mobility.”

Skills 'change lives'

David Gallagher, chief executive at NCFE, said: “Skills change the lives of young people. They build self-esteem and release potential, create opportunities and build stronger communities, and are the foundation of economic and social progress, which is why we are thrilled to be partnering with WorldSkills UK on this revolutionary and timely project.

“As the economic impact of Covid-19 becomes fully evident, it’s clear that we must do all we can to support young people and provide them with access to high-quality education and training to equip them with the knowledge, skills and mindset to make the most of opportunities when the economy and labour market recovers.

“By providing much-needed investment in technical educators through the Centre of Excellence, we will mainstream international best practice into programme delivery. We are raising the bar for technical teaching and helping to create a cohort of highly skilled, employment-ready young people who can positively contribute to the workforce as we strive to rebuild the UK economy. The impact of this project will resonate for years to come and has the potential to inspire and create the next generation of world-class educators and learners, whilst creating a prestige for apprenticeships and technical teaching which will both positively impact the economy and promote social mobility.”

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said:  “We are working to transform further education in this country. Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the entire country, particularly young people, and the sector has done a fantastic job helping young people continue their studies during this challenging time. 

“This innovative partnership with WorldSkills UK and NCFE will ensure young people receive the best vocational training possible and help businesses have access to the talented workforce they need to rebuild after Covid-19. I look forward to hearing more about this exciting project.”

Martin McGuire, WorldSkills UK Scotland director, said:  “I’m delighted that a range of colleges in Scotland applied to be part of this groundbreaking initiative and I congratulate Dumfries and Galloway College and New College Lanarkshire on gaining entry to the first phase of the programme.  This demonstrates a commitment to excellence and a willingness to embed international best practice within our sector.”

Colleges selected for the first year of the WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence

North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College

East Midlands

West Suffolk College

East of England

Barking and Dagenham College


Sunderland College

North East

East Durham College

North East

Middlesbrough College

North East

City of Liverpool College

North West

Wirral Met College

North West

The Trafford College Group

North West

Preston’s College

North West

Dumfries and Galloway College


New College Lanarkshire


Chichester College Group

South East

Havant & South Downs College

South East

Wiltshire College

South West

Cardiff and Vale College


Coleg Gwent


Dudley College of Technology

West Midlands

Rotherham and North Notts Group

Yorkshire and the Humber 

Doncaster College and North Lindsey College

Yorkshire and the Humber 





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