FOUR WELSH competitors have been selected to represent the UK in the largest international skills competition, WorldSkills, held in Abu Dhabi in October this year.
Joseph Massey, 23, from Coleg Cambria; Alfie Hopkin, 18, from Llanelli, Elizabeth Forkuoh, 20, from Llanelli and Ethan Davies, 21, from Mynydd Isa have been recognised as the UK’s most highly skilled young people in their industry, and will travel almost 5,000 miles to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) to compete against the best students, apprentices and employees in the world.
Held every two years, WorldSkills International sees more than one thousand young people, aged 18 to 25, come together from seventy-seven countries to compete for medals in fifty-one skill competitions, including CNC Milling, Restaurant Service, Web Design and Aeronautical Engineering.
As part of Team UK, these four Welsh youngsters will showcase their skills by demonstrating their technical abilities in specific tasks, which they study or conduct in their workplace, over the course of six days.
Elizabeth Forkuoh is no stranger to skills competitions having this year being awarded a British Education Award, which recognises her competition success including winning a UK-wide gold award for restaurant services at the Skills Show at Birmingham NEC in 2015. Receiving nationwide recognition for her skills.
As well as working at the Stradey Park Hotel in Llanelli, she is currently studying an NVQ level three diploma in hospitality supervision and leadership at Coleg Sir Gâr’s Pibwrlwyd campus following successful completion of qualifications in professional cookery, professional food and beverage and barista skills.
Elizabeth said: “WorldSkills has enabled me to travel the UK and receive training from some of the best restaurants in the country. For example I’ve trained at the Ritz and Michel Roux Jnr’s two Michelin star restaurant, where they actually offered me a job!
“I’m so excited to be able to compete on an international level, it’s something I’ve dreamed about for years now and I can hardly believe I’ll be going. Being part of the competition is such an amazing experience. From the people I’ve met and the new skills I’ve learnt, to the places I’ve travelled to and worked in, none of it would have been possible without WorldSkills.”
Alfie Hopkin, who is studying a level three extended diploma in IT in Llanelli, began his competition journey in 2015 when he won the Welsh heat of a web design competition run by Skills Competitions Wales, the launch pad into the international skills arena. He then won a bronze award in the national final and was selected for Squad UK with four other competitors. He has gained the only place available in the UK team to compete in web design at Abu Dhabi following a recent team selection event in Manchester. He will begin intense training in the UK and overseas including competing in the Canadian web design final in Winnipeg in May.
All four Welsh contenders were invited to compete in the selection process after excelling at the Skills Competition Wales and WorldSkills UK National Competitions, the finals of which take place at The Skills Show each November.
Backed by the Welsh Government through the European Social Fund, these competitions promote the importance of developing a highly skilled workforce and world-class individuals.
Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James said: “Congratulations to all four competitors on their way to represent the nation. The number of Welsh members in Team UK is a testament not only to their hard work and determination but also the support from their families, and training from Welsh colleges, training providers and employers.
“Wales has been competing in WorldSkills for many years and has nurtured some of the most highly-skilled young people in a range of industries. Taking part in WorldSkills competitions enables the whole of Wales to benefit. Not only do competitors return to the country to inspire others to follow in their footsteps but they also bring their knowledge and experience to the workplace, helping develop skills and setting high industry standards.
“However, the journey neither starts nor ends with WorldSkills international – there is a cycle of programme development behind Welsh involvement in competitions which allows colleges and training providers to benchmark and quality assure themselves against the best in the world, encouraging continuous professional development and raising our teaching standards. We wish Joseph, Alfie, Elizabeth and Ethan good luck in Abu Dhabi and look forward to following their journey.”
As Skills Champion for Wales, college principal Barry Liles is at the helm of Wales’ involvement in skills competitions and is passionate about promoting the nation at international level. Coleg Sir Gâr also leads the Welsh Government funded project, Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales, which supports Welsh competitors training to compete nationally and internationally.
He said: “The competitions aim to inspire young people to be ambitious and exceptional within their area of expertise.
“Driving excellence in skills helps businesses to compete and in turn helps Wales and the UK proudly compete in a global market. I am thrilled with Wales’ performance and very proud of our Coleg Sir Gâr students.”
New lease of life for rescue dog
A DOG that could hardly walk has been given a new lease of life after a 3D printed leg was made for him by CBM, a research company established by UWTSD.
Rescue dog Duke, an Irish retriever, was born with a birth defect in his front right leg and faced having it amputated.
But he is now running around after Swansea printing firm CBM made him a leg similar to blades used by Paralympians.
New owner Phil Brown, from Bristol, said it had been ’life changing’.
When Duke was found abandoned by the Irish Retriever Rescue (IRR) charity in Ireland in 2016, his paw was deformed and he could not walk on all fours.
He was taken to the pound and rehomed with foster owners the Browns, who have since adopted him as their own as they could not bear to part with the loveable pooch.
After a massive fundraising campaign by the charity Duke has been fitted with a state-of-the-art prosthetic by CBM, after narrowly avoiding having his foot amputated.
His new owner said Duke, who is now three, was delighted by his new ’super leg’ which meant he was walking on four paws for the first time.
Mr Brown, who owns other dogs which Duke is enjoying playing with, said: “He had a very tough start in life.
“This is an absolute life changer for him, it really is. He can now walk on it, he can now run at a slow speed.”
Mr Brown said the three-dimensional leg was about a year in a making, and a few months down the line Duke is getting so much use out of it he has already had to have it refurbished.
The leg was entirely printed out of a machine apart from a rubber foot, some Velcro and foam at the top to make it more comfortable for Duke.
CBM product designer Benjamin Alport said creating Duke’s leg was a real challenge for the team, who worked with his new owner and a consultant orthopaedic surgeon on the design.
“We had to go down and assess Duke. We had to consider right down to the thickness of the hairs because you have to take into account the smallest things,” he said.
Kellogg’s backs breakfast clubs
KELLOGG’S is celebrating 20 years of championing breakfast clubs by offering schools across the country the chance to get their hands on £1,000.
To mark the anniversary, the cereal giant will be giving a £1,000 grant away every school day of 2018.
Schools can apply for a Kellogg’s grant by visiting http://bit.ly/2FxJWQn.
The scheme marks the 20th anniversary of the Kellogg’s Breakfast Club programme, which has provided £3 million of investment to schools and 70 million bowls of cereal since 1998.
Research shows that breakfast clubs help with everything from attendance and attainment to alleviating hunger and providing pre-school care.
They are a lifeline for many teachers as 68 per cent of teachers believe pupils would struggle to concentrate in class without their breakfast club, according to a report by Kellogg’s.
Kate Prince, from Kellogg’s, said: “We believe all children should have the opportunity to start the day with breakfast so we’re proud to have spent 20 years supporting so many schools across the UK.
“The £1,000 we’re offering in 2018 underpins our pride and continuing commitment to our breakfast club programme.”
Kellogg’s currently has 3000 schools signed up to its network, offering them a range of resources and provisions to help them operate sustainable and effective breakfast clubs.
Former minister lectures on Facebook and democracy
THE EVER increasing influence of social media on democracy will be the focus for a public lecture at Aberystwyth University on Thursday, March 22.
Facebook, The Media and Democracy will be delivered by Former Welsh Government Minister Professor Leighton Andrews of the Cardiff Business School.
Hosted by The Global Communications Research Centre and the Aberystwyth Law School, the lecture takes place at 4:10pm in the Main Hall of the Department of International Politics.
Facebook now has over two billion users across the globe and owns other key communication applications including Instagram and WhatsApp, giving it unprecedented market power.
It is a major player in shaping whole societies through its role in media dissemination, civic organization and as an electoral platform.
Professor Gary Rawnsley, Director of the Global Communications Research Centre and Professor of Public Diplomacy, said: “We are looking forward to co-hosting the lecture with Aberystwyth Law School on such a hot topic. Facebook is constantly changing the face of politics, engagement and democracy at an unprecedented speed and arguments for and against regulation are evolving on a daily basis.
“The role of social media is changing the future of society and democracy, but following the recent controversy regarding ‘Fake News’ in the USA and UK, its dominance is under challenge from regulators and law-makers. The lecture will raise regulatory questions around big data and the internet platforms.”
Professor Leighton Andrews will be introduced by Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University.
Professor Andrews is now Professor of Practice in Public Service Leadership and Innovation at Cardiff Business School.
He served as Minister for Education and Skills and Minister for Public Services in Carwyn Jones’s Welsh Labour Governments between 2009 and 2016, and Deputy Minister in Rhodri Morgan’s One Wales Government from 2007 until 2009, and was the Assembly Member for the Rhondda from 2003 until 2016.
Prior to his election to the National Assembly in 2003, Professor Andrews had a successful career in the private, public and voluntary sectors, and was the BBC’s Head of Public Affairs in London from 1993-1996, during its Charter Renewal campaign.
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