Sharing best practice in skills competitions between the UK and China
The UK’s Department for International Trade is working to raise the profile of the UK skills offer in China so that market access issues can be resolved and more commercial interest in UK skills is generated. In 2022, Shanghai, China will host the World Skills competition and so this was seen as the perfect platform on which to best demonstrate UK skills capability and capacity.
The global Covid-19 pandemic delayed preparations for Shanghai WorldSkills competition organisers, participating colleges, judges and students alike. To support Chinese WorldSkills partners, the UK set about delivering a world first for online WorldSkills competitions.
The Department for International Trade (DIT) approached WorldSkills UK to develop and deliver an online event with the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) to showcase UK skills; to share good practice in skills development between the two countries and showcase skills competitions.
The concept was to develop a programme of activity that could engage students, teachers, colleges, and key Chinese Government stakeholders at all levels locally, regionally and nationally so that they could all experience UK skills in action.
A two-day online event was planned and delivered on 18th and 19th November 2020.
The first day focussed on sharing best practice relating to skills competitions and the second a virtual competition between a college in China and one from the UK. A number of UK organisations linked to Worldskills UK were engaged and provided their expertise and support as part of the programme.
The first day saw discussions between speakers from DIT, WorldSkills UK, Team UK Training Managers, Further Education college leaders and the Chinese government about how best to train for and compete in skills competitions.
Topics included local, regional and national levels of activity; profiling competitions as a technical and mindset skills development tool and the wider benefits that competitions bring.
The second day was a virtual electronics competition between students at Gower College Swansea, including members of WorldSkills UK’s electronics squad, and students from 5 different colleges in China.
The competitors, who were livestreamed over Zoom, had two hours to complete their task before UK and China judges marked their own competitors, with the UK competitors achieving Gold and Silver awards.
This world-first online event generated very positive feedback, with six pieces of media coverage and over 2,300 positive engagements on WorldSkills UK’s social media channels.
The partnership event provided a valuable platform to transfer knowledge and skills between the UK and China to help drive innovation and excellence in the quality of TVET in the UK.
It provided an important opportunity to gauge international Further Education standards, compare resources, benchmark student performance and helped improve the UK’s international and national networks.
It has also given WorldSkills UK a foundation to develop similar partnerships with other countries and in other skill areas.
The virtual competition element demonstrated that skills competitions can work effectively over online platforms and can provide a robust competition environment of appropriate complexity where young people benefit from the experience and gain new skills, especially within a restrictive environment, such as that with Covid-19.
The event also benefitted the students, allowing them to showcase and enhance their individual skills.
Watching the event live, was a large and varied audience, with questions posed by students and teachers in China – which were insightful and demonstrated a high level of engagement and understanding of vocational and technical skills. The UK audience included the trade press, sector organisations, such as Association of Colleges (AOC), further education colleges, UK Government staff and WorldSkills UK Training Managers.
The Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MoHRSS) and the Chinese colleges were very impressed by the excellent UK TVET/Skills offers shared by the UK experts, the high degree of professionalism showcased throughout and by the firm commitment demonstrated to working with China on talent training.
As well as further collaboration between further education colleges, this event secure a commitment to introduce UK professional qualifications to China to benefit more Chinese colleges, their students and teachers through these joint training programmes. MOHRSS want to develop the capacity and capability of Chinese teacher and assessor skills and see the UK methodologies and approach as the best way for them to achieve their ambitions.
As a direct result of this event, commercial enquiries have been generated from Chinese clients seeking business partnerships with UK suppliers and no doubt, more will develop as time progresses.
“The WorldSkills UK team were phenomenal – they worked in close partnership with their Chinese counterparts to pull together an excellent showcase and a world-first online WorldSkills competition. This demonstrated their capability and capacity in supporting skills competitions via remote means, enabling skills competitions to reach beyond borders.”
TVET Specialist, Department for International Trade.