Now prepare to win gold medals in skills

12th September 2008 at 01:00

I have been glued to the TV, watching the action in Beijing. It was fantastic to see how much interest there was in the Games, and to see a British team do so well is the icing on the cake. We now all look forward to London 2012.

However, six months before that, in October 2011, London will see an influx of some 1,200 competitors and a similar number of judges from around 60 competing nations for an event that will attract about 250,000 spectators. This is not some special warm-up event for the Olympics, it is for WorldSkills London 2011, an equally important event in which the best of young people who have chosen the vocational route in life get a chance to compete, and perhaps to win, gold.

WorldSkills is the largest skills-based event in the world. It is designed specifically to show just how much talent there is globally. Hundreds of young people (most competitors will be under 22) travel to the event to take part in around 40 competitions ranging from landscape gardening and graphic design to floristry and automotive technology. And forget one race and you're done: a WorldSkills competition lasts for four days. It's intense, challenging and hard work - yet competitors put themselves through it because they too want to be the best in the world at what they do.

The UK will always need a skilled workforce and these young adults are proving that they have what it takes. Indeed, they demonstrate the skills that are needed to run and build London 2012. Despite what you might hear and read, not all young people are falling for the cult of celebrity or wearing hoodies and getting up to no good. What I know is that all of those who aspire to represent their country at WorldSkills deserve the attention that has been given to Team GB.

To join me in supporting Team UK, to find out more or if you would like your readers to be able to register their interest to take part, I encourage you to visit

Simon Bartley, Chief executive, UK Skills.

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