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Fly, my pretties

WorldSkills has always seemed an inherently implausible event, like the sort of grandiose yet bizarre project a Bond villain might organise to disguise his true designs. An Olympics-style contest for bricklaying, aircraft maintenance and refrigerator repair skills? Yeah, right.

Now FErret is more certain than ever that it is a shadowy front organisation. The latest evidence? Robot penguins. Only an evil genius would order the construction of robot penguins.

Unleashed on Monday (28 February) at a launch event for the competition, to be held in London for the first time this autumn, the mechanical penguins with silver, Zeppelin-like bodies "swam" through the air, guided by sonar.

Clearly the German-built machines were intended to wow audiences at the launch, but is it really wise to allow anyone to amass a robot penguin army in the absence of Batman? When they start firing lasers from their eyes, don't say FErret didn't warn you.

A once great power .

The mania for international skills comparisons may have got out of hand. Exhibit one is this Bloomberg Businessweek headline: "US is first in Nobels, trails in alleyway sex."

Blimey. For the most part, the report is a familiar trawl through international comparisons of educational participation and achievement, until columnist Caroline Baum notes in passing that the US is a mere 24th in the world for the amount of sex in alleys (she seems oddly unperturbed by its underperformance).

Despite the last UK government's supposed addiction to targets, FErret can find none that relate to this measure of global competitiveness, an unaccountable omission in Lord Leitch's review of skills. There's only one thing for it: we need a Lord Lech.

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