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UK bids to host the Skills Olympics

Britain is planning to challenge France once again and put itself on the world competitive stage - this time in a bid to host the Skills Olympics.

The event, in 2011, would give the best of British skills education a place on the world stage a year before the Olympics in 2012.

Young apprentices from around the globe compete in 40 events in the World Skills Championships - dubbed the Skills Olympics - which have been held every two years since 1951.

The UK team achieved its best-ever performance this year, finishing 12th out of 40 nations when the four-day event was held in Finland, in May.

The British team won gold in car body repair, silvers in beauty therapy and stonemasonry, and seven more medals of excellence for reaching world-class standards in plumbing, bricklaying, carpentry, joinery, hairdressing, welding and cooking.

Chris Humphries, chairman of UK Skills, which promotes the event, plans to bring it to Britain for the first time since 1989, when it was held in Birmingham.

He believes it could focus attention on skills in the build-up to the 2012 Games, awarded to London last week in a bidding competition with four other cities.

He said: "We have the chance to link the country's capacity for skills with its capacity for sport."

He also expects France and Australia to bid to hold the 2011 championships, with Germany also a possible rival.

At present, UK Skills is "investigating the logistics" of bringing the event to London before the September 30 deadline for declaring an interest in bidding. It is planning to approach the organisers of the Olympic Games to see if they can work with them on the bid and explore the possibility of using a Games venue for the skills competition.

The next two Skills Olympics are due to be held in Japan in 2007, and Canada in 2009.

Members of the UK team that took part in the event in Finland were due to be presented with awards by the Prince of Wales at SkillCity 2005, the UK's biggest-ever skills festival, last Thursday, but the presentation was cancelled because of the London bombings.

Olympic boost 3

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