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Engaging in the skills experience delivers career inspiration

This week brings great excitement as we look forward to taking part in The Skills Show in Birmingham, the UK’s largest showcase for skills, careers and apprenticeships.

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The event, which takes place at the NEC between 16-18 November, gives us the chance to make valuable links with employers at our stand in the engineering and technology hall, helping the sector to showcase careers that depend on skills in science, technology, engineering and maths.

As a Trustee of WorldSkills UK, competitions are always close to my heart. We are delighted to support five of our students who are due to compete in the finals of WorldSkills UK this week, as well as in Inclusive Skills competitions.

As part of WorldSkills UK, Level 2 Business students Jade Woodcock and Chloe Ward-Hughes will be assessed for their skill in handling customer service issues.

Chelsea Hammond will compete in the health and social care category of Inclusive Skills, and digital media students Joe Taplin and Katie Macadam will test their skills in the media competition. We will eagerly follow their progress and wish them the very best of luck.

Competitions are an excellent way of enabling students to practice real-world employability skills including performing under pressure, delivering to tight deadlines and being judged by employers against industry standards.

On Wednesday this week, our Public Services students will be taking part in a crucial debate on the future of careers advice for young people. They will get the chance to lobby senior members of the Government and leaders from business on their views about how this vital resource should be supported in the future.

Careers advice really comes to life at The Skills Show where thousands of young people have the chance to try out skills for themselves and see real-life jobs in action, many of which may be completely new to them.

We wholeheartedly support WorldSkills UK’s response to consultation on the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper which highlights the importance of experiential models of careers advice. Seeing skills in action and taking part in live activities inspires young people to get really enthusiastic about their future career options. Employers bring their latest recruits to meet attendees so that young people can find out more from those who have recently entered the workplace.

The Skills Show also gives a high profile to breaking down gender stereotypes. Currently, only 19% of the engineering workforce are women and the event can help to steer the spotlight towards female role models.

Our decision to exhibit in the engineering and technology area of the show demonstrates our commitment to the development of STEM careers across the East and West Midlands. We need high quality, homegrown skills to help ensure that the UK can compete globally post-Brexit.

Our college is already leading on the development of the £9.5m MIRA Technology Institute in Nuneaton for the automotive sector, and we’re also part of a bid to secure the first dedicated Logistics Institute of Technology, planned for Magna Park near Rugby.

As the Skills Show unfolds this week, we look forward to making an impact on the future skills pathways of hundreds of young people, and to celebrating the endeavours of our own students as they compete at the highest level. Let the show begin!

Marion Plant OBE, Principal and CEO

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