Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales has announced the launch of its brand-new competition, Inclusive Skills: Independent Living Skills, to join this year’s Skills Competition Wales cycle.
The new Independent Living Skills category will join the 11 existing Inclusive Skills categories in this year’s Skills Competition Wales line-up to give young people with disabilities and additional learning needs the opportunity to challenge, benchmark and raise their skills.
Funded by the Welsh Government through the Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales project, Skills Competition Wales aims to inspire and upskill future generations by developing young people’s vocational skills while celebrating their achievements.
Following a series of regional competitions, WorldSkills UK’s National Finals are held each year in November. This year, all national Foundation Competitions – the equivalent to the regional Inclusive Competitions – will take place in Cardiff.
This is a milestone that reflects Wales’ dedication to the competitions, having been the first country to implement Inclusive Skills categories to now having the highest number of competitors of all UK regions for five consecutive years.
David Jones, Learner Transition Co-ordinator at Pembrokeshire College, has been heavily involved with the implementation of the new category, along with his cohort of colleagues at the college’s Life Skills Academy – a growing curriculum area offering a range of programmes to suit learners with additional learning needs.
He said: “As a team, we started to notice that although we had a lot of interest from our Life Skills Academy learners to take part in Skills Competition Wales, they sometimes struggled to find an area they could confidently compete in. That’s when we started to collate a brief for a new skills category; to give learners who wanted to develop their skills through competition-led training a chance to get involved.”
Each year, a dedicated network of colleges, work-based learning providers and employer-led organisations come together to write detailed briefs on each of the skills categories. Having put forward their initial ideas, David and the team at Pembrokeshire College played a key role in developing the Independent Life Skills category.
He explained: “The Independent Living Skills category is all about helping young people gain the knowledge and develop the behaviours required to live successfully on their own. Many of our learners at the Life Skills Academy are keen to live by themselves, so this category hopes to offer a fun and unique way of showcasing individual learners who are ready to reach this milestone.
“The competitors’ knowledge and skills will be tested across a range of subject areas, including Health and Safety, Money Skills, Hygiene and Decision Making, all key components needed to highlight their independence and employability skills.”
Paul Evans, Project Leader at the Inspiring Skills Wales project said: “The aim of Skills Competition Wales is to celebrate learners’ skills and achievements, so we were thrilled when the team at Pembrokeshire College’s Life Skills Academy came forward with this suggestion. We really want to make the competitions as diverse and inclusive as possible. It’s been a brilliant experience collaborating to ensure this is possible.”
Moving forward, David is keen for employers and colleges to put more of their students forward for skills competitions.
David added: “Skills competitions not only boost the learner’s confidence but can hugely benefit team morale in the workplace. Competitions provide individuals with the chance to show off their skills to the best of their ability and give employers the opportunity to grow holistically and raise the aspirations of an entire cohort.
“Having taken part in the competitions as a tutor to now helping coordinate one of the categories, I can hand on heart say that it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience. I can’t wait to see the Independent Living Skills competition come to life towards the end of this year, and I encourage anyone to grasp the opportunity with both hands.”
Registrations for this year’s Skills Competition Wales cycle open in November. For more information on the competitions and to be in with a chance to take part, visit https://inspiringskills.gov.wales/