Worldskills-logoUK: Refrigeration and air conditioning will again feature at WorldSkills UK after attracting support from industry and media group Datateam, organiser of the ACR Show and publisher of ACR News.

Following a comprehensive tender process, WorldSkills UK has confirmed that a refrigeration and air conditioning competition will be included in the 2016 WorldSkills UK event –  the first time the sector has been represented since 2013. The agreement also provides the opportunity for young refrigeration and air conditioning apprentices to compete for a place in the squad at WorldSkills Kazan (Russia) 2019.

WorldSkills UK competitions are designed to inspire apprentices and young people to be ambitious in their pursuit of skills excellence. Local qualifying heats will be held across the spring and summer, with the highest scoring competitors invited to take part in the national finals at The Skills Show at the NEC Birmingham in November.

A new competition organising committee has been formed, including representatives from commerce, educational bodies and standards setting organisations, to oversee the management and administration of all elements of the competition.

“We are delighted to confirm that refrigeration air conditioning is returning to the WorldSkills UK competition portfolio for the forthcoming cycle,” said Dr Neil Bentley, chief executive of WorldSkills UK. “The new competition organising committee will provide a direct link between skills competitions and industry and, in a first for WorldSkills UK, will be implementing a self-funding, sustainable competition model to ensure its long-term security: great news for the future development of the industry.

“WorldSkills UK Competitions enable our young people to develop and test their skills against strict criteria,” continues Dr Bentley. “By showcasing their abilities against world class standards, the competitors demonstrate the value of their talent to their employers as well as to the wider economy. We look forward to working with the very best of the UK’s young talents on the road to Kazan.”

Acceptance of the bid comes too late, though, for inclusion in the next WorldSkills international competition in Abu Dhabi in 2017.

Chris Bailie

Chris Bailie, silver medallist at last year’s WorldSkills international event in Brazil

Representatives of WorldSkills are known to have attended last month’s ACR Show and witnessed a successful SkillFridge competition. That competition attracted wide support and backing from the industry and included an appearance by Chris Bailie, the UK’s silver medallist in refrigeration and air conditioning at last year’s Worldskills event in Sao Paulo. Chris, of Belfast-based BL Refrigeration, was the SkillFridge gold medal winner at WorldSkills UK 2013, the last time refrigeration and air conditioning was represented.

The successful bid has been achieved by a steering committee chaired by Institute of Refrigeration president-elect Steve Gill, and including SkillFridge supremo Mark Forsyth and Chris Vallis, the driving force behind Cool Science, the industry’s successful participation at the Big Bang annual careers fair. Also involved are the Institute of Refrigeration, ACRIB and BESA, as well as industry representatives and Datateam, the Maidstone-based publishing group.

“We are delighted to be part of the WorldSkills UK portfolio, with our new approach to implementing and operating sustainable competitions,” said Paul Ryder, Datateam publishing director. “We are looking forward to engaging and exciting young people about the considerable career choices available in this vital industry.”

Mark Forsyth, the national SkillFridge competition manager and lead assessor, said of the competition: “By participating in skill competitions, the UK is able to share best practice on vocational teaching, and raise standards and expertise in further education, skills and apprenticeships on a national scale.”

The steering committee also includes representatives from training establishments The Manchester college, Eastleigh college, SERC NI, Glasgow Kelvin and North West London college.

The colleges will provide the venues for the regional heats with a final at a venue yet to be announced. All entrants, however, must register by April 7. More information about the competition, and how to enter, here.

Founded in 1950, WorldSkills is the largest international skills competition in the world.  Held every two years in cities around the globe, the competition sees around 1000 young people, aged 18 – 25, come together to compete for medals in more than 40 different skills.

Each year, exceptional competitors from WorldSkills UK regional and national competitions are invited to compete in the selection process for Squad and Team UK for the WorldSkills competition.

The UK’s most talented apprentices, employees and learners spend around nine months training as part of Squad UK. They then battle it out against their peers, over four days of competition, to secure a place in the team that will represent the UK at the WorldSkills competition.

Related stories:

Ashley Wilson takes SkillFridge Gold

Chris Bailie wins Silver at WorldSkills