Abu Dhabi : Cities from around the world should draw on the expertise of the UK to help them develop a “fit for purpose” apprenticeship system, the skills minister has said.
Speaking at the WorldSkills conference in Abu Dhabi this morning, which is held alongside the skills competition taking place this week, UK Skills Minister, Anne Milton said the UK’s approach had enabled the country to develop “growing expertise in designing, developing and delivering world-class technical and vocational education and skills, based on employer need at a local, regional, national and international level”.
In the session, entitled “Skills Development in Cities: Powering the engines of economic growth” and chaired by WorldSkills UK chief executive Neil Bentley, the minister added: “Through the new skills partnerships in the UK, this high-quality expertise is available to our friends wherever you are. Our cities can help your cities develop and employer-driven apprenticeship model one that is fit for purpose and ready for the next generation.”
Ms Milton said for businesses in London and Birmingham, their competitors were not just in Manchester, but also in Moscow, Beijing and Sidney. She added: “We need cities to ignite economic prosperity, and highly skilled people to ignite those cities.” The UK government’s approach, including the focus on apprenticeships and the introduction of T levels, was helping to boost skills in cities and tackle disparities between UK cities, she said.
“Since 2010, with businesses, we have created more than three and a half million apprenticeships- real job giving people transferable skills and an amazing alternative to university,” Ms Milton said, adding that T levels – further details of which were announced last week – were “prestigious” qualifications that would “provide the skills our high-flying businesses need”.
Devolution of skills funding to areas such as Manchester and London was allowing for “great innovation, as colleges and organisations devise imaginative plans to overcome local skills obstacles”.
Speaking at a press conference after her speech, she said it was also crucial to have collaborative relationships with countries around the world. “Learning from other countries, exporting what we can to help other countries, telling them what has and what has not worked for us, that is invaluable. I have come here and realised the problems we face in the UK on skills are the same everywhere.”
Earlier, Ms Milton had observed a number of Team UK members competing and met families and experts supporting the competitors. Tes understands this is the first time a UK minister has attended an international skills competition outside the UK since Calgary in 2009, when the UK was taking over as host for London 2011. “One of the reasons I am here is I don’t think it has ever been higher on a government’s priority,” said Ms Milton. “This is absolutely critical. Skills are critical.”
She added: “A competition like this is like a pebble in a pond. Irrespective of how the team do, it is about making sure the ripples from this competition spread out as far as they can. If I could put in a bottle the essence of this competition and sprinkle it across the UK, all my dreams would be answered.”
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