Returning from WorldSkills

Date: 24 November 2017

Dave Kehoe, WorldSkills Expert in Plastering and Drylining tells us about the WorldSkills final.

British Gypsum’s National Technical Training Representative, David Kehoe tells us about his recent trip to Abu Dubai, United Arab Emirates for the WorldSkills Finals.

I recently returned home from this year’s WorldSkills Finals, as part of my role as Team UK’s WorldSkills Expert in Plastering and Drylining. The event helps showcase the value of vocational skills as well as helping to raise the recognition of skilled professionals around the world. This year’s final was held in Abu Dhabi and saw teams visit from 77 member countries and regions. 

In the past year we have been mentoring the Team UK WorldSkills representative for Plastering and Drylining, Harrison Moy as he prepared for the big event. To support him in his training, Harrison has been working out of the training centre at our East Leake plant. I’ve also been giving Harrison one-on-one support to best prepare him for both the competition, and his future career.

WorldSkills 2017

It’s always a pleasure to be involved with WorldSkills but this year’s final was particularly special. I’m delighted to report Team UK had a very successful outing, taking home no less than 20 medals. Within that tally were one gold, three bronze and 13 medallions of excellence. All the medals were handed out at a spectacular closing ceremony, attended by some 15,000 and in front of the world’s media at the Du Arena, Abu Dhabi.

More than 1,200 young people took part in the event across 51 different disciplines from hairdressing to aircraft maintenance, plumbing to 3D games designs. Everyone from Team UK had qualified to take part for the event by successfully completing a regional heat, before triumphing in a national final. The process is intensive, with the selection procedure lasting months.

It was amazing to see our team do so well on the world stage, with the team outperforming many larger countries. In fact, Team UK was the smallest team to make the global top 10. Their hard work didn’t go unnoticed, with Minister of State for Apprenticeship and Skills, Anne Milton visiting the competition to show her support.

Anne told the team she was “blown away” by their performance and praised them for their effort and dedication. Anne also made the point that events such as WorldSkills highlight the other options available to young people outside of university. Those willing to work as hard as the apprentices involved in Team UK have the potential to achieve anything they want.  

Dr Neil Bentley, Chief Executive of World Skills UK was also quick to recognise British Gypsum’s support for the Plastering and Drywall Systems competition. We will continue to mentor and support young apprentices as we prepare them for the international competitions which is also preparation for them should they choose to pursue a career path in the field.

As part of my role as National Technical Training Representative I’ve been involved in working with young people and apprentices for some time. I’m constantly amazed by the level of talent and commitment of youth from across the country, but I worry they’re being let down by lack of support. That’s one of the main reasons British Gypsum puts so much effort into its Thistle Plaster Programme and Learning Hub, which are helping find the next generation of plasterers.

For now, it’s important that we ensure these apprentices become inspirations for the next wave of young people making decisions about further education. To do this we must continue with the same spirit that I saw at WorldSkills, one where perceptions about apprenticeships are non-existent and the opportunities for them to further their careers are endless.

Following on from WorldSkills we also had the SkillBuild 2017 UK National Final that took place at The Skills Show 2017, from Thursday 16 to Saturday 18 November at NEC Birmingham. All the UK National Finalists that succeeded in qualifying at the regional heats competed for their place on Squad UK for next year’s EuroSkills Budapest 2018. On Friday we also look forward to welcoming the apprentices from WorldSkills back where we will be celebrating Team UK’s performance once more.

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