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Driving technical excellence in the skills economy through the second phase of our WorldSkills UK partnership

From David Gallagher NCFE Chief Executive

As we move into the second year of our partnership with WorldSkills UK on the Centre of Excellence, which exists to mainstream excellence in training standards, we’ve jointly released the results of new research that shows how vital world-class skills are for economic development.

Drivers of Technical Education in the Skills Economy, by the Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE) and the Edge Foundation for WorldSkills UK, in partnership with NCFE, analysed how different countries drive technical excellence both in terms of policy and practice.

Key findings from the report include:

  • World-class technical skills and skills systems were seen across all countries as vital for the economy
  • Successful skills economies rely on partnerships to embed excellence at all levels
  • Battling for prestige against more academic routes, or demonstrating relevance to industry and the economy, are frustrations not unique to UK skills systems.

You can explore more of the detailed findings here.

Skills truly do change lives – they build self-esteem and release potential, create opportunities and build stronger communities. As rapid and ongoing changes in the economy and labour market emerge, it’s clear that we must do all we can to provide people with access to high-quality education and training; equipping them with the knowledge, skills and mindset to make the most of opportunities. A thriving economy is underpinned by the development and implementation of the skills that meet the needs of the current and future workforce.

At NCFE we believe that the quality of teaching is the single most important aspect of the learning experience. We simply cannot create transformational learning experiences without artful and inspiring practitioners, so we’ve got to invest in the latent potential that’s there within our frontline workforce in education to help our educators be the best they can be. 

By providing much-needed investment in technical educators through the Centre of Excellence, now moving in to its second phase, we will mainstream international best practice into programme delivery. We are raising the bar for technical teaching and helping to create a cohort of highly skilled, employment-ready individuals who can positively contribute to the workforce as we strive to rebuild the UK economy.

The impact of this project will resonate for years to come and has the potential to inspire and create the next generation of world-class educators and learners, whilst creating prestige for apprenticeships and technical teaching which will both positively impact the economy and promote social mobility.

It’s also vital that we learn from best practice across the globe; exploring what we can learn from different countries, models, industries and skills systems. This new report clearly shows the drivers of excellence at an international level, making interesting and insightful links and comparisons. Importantly, the report demonstrates the clear need for true and effective collaboration – change can only be driven by employers, educators and policymakers coming together to look at meaningful and innovative solutions that have learners’ needs at their core.

There is no doubt that we are standing on the cusp of seismic change, and we all have a part to play in ensuring the future quality and prestige of vocational and technical education. And that’s an exciting place to start.