· News

Vince Cable helps launch of WorldSkills vocational skills competition

Secretary of state for business Vince Cable (pictured) and skills minister John Hayes yesterday on British business to follow the lead of firms including Honda, Snap-on and Lincoln Electric by investing in workforce skills and helping Britain become an international leader in vocational training.

Speaking at the first in a series of WorldSkills events highlighting the importance of vocational skills in advance of the WorldSkills London 2011 competition, to be hosted by the UK in October, Cable said record government investment in apprenticeships would give UK firms the opportunity to gain the skills for growth.

Business leaders attending last night's launch at Lancaster House, London, had a go at some of the 45 skills areas that will be contested at WorldSkills London 2011 this October - from a pit-stop wheel challenge with Honda and Snap-on, to virtual welding with Lincoln Electric.

Cable said: "WorldSkills London 2011 will play an invaluable role in highlighting opportunities for vocational learning and achievement, which we are boosting through record investment in apprenticeships.

"I am proud of the support that WorldSkills has already generated from business - real evidence of the willingness of UK firms to invest in the new generation of craftspeople and technicians who will deliver sustainable growth."

Hayes added: "Britain can only flourish as a highly skilled nation. This Government is radically transforming the skills system to deliver the training employers need to compete. Every £1 invested in an apprenticeship generates up to £40 for the wider economy, which is why I'm committed to working with employers to deliver more apprenticeship placements than ever in our history. That is the most ambitious skills strategy for years."

Companies that are backing WorldSkills as sponsors include City & Guilds, Cisco and L'Oréal Professional, among many others.

Aidan Jones, chief Executive of WorldSkills London 2011, said: "We have been planning for WorldSkills London 2011 since winning the bid in 2006 and an enormous amount of work has gone in to organising a world class show. The competition will amaze and inspire people, showcasing the skills that shape our world. This would not be possible without the support of businesses, in particular our sponsors who are leading the way in promoting skills excellence and helping to train our young people for the future

"This autumn's Skills Summit, being held at the competition, will give hundreds of businesses the opportunity to get involved in the WorldSkills event, providing an exciting interactive programme where employers can learn firsthand how skills qualifications such as City & Guilds can improve the bottom line of their business and promote future growth."