Latest news and case studies

SEND learners demonstrate skills to employers

Vocational skills competitions in areas including hairdressing, catering and horticulture are enabling learners with SEND to showcase their skills to employers.

The Inter-College Inclusive Skills Competitions are led in the North East by New College Durham. Colin Galley, Programme Leader for Vocational Access, explains more.

We’re in the fifth year of running inclusive skills competitions in the North East and it’s a very busy few months, with competitions in a huge variety of subject areas coming up - everything from painting and decorating through to catering and restaurant services.

Young people with SEND often have a fantastic skillset but they may not always have the opportunity to showcase their talents. These competitions are a way for learners to show what they have to offer and to work on developing the skills that employers are looking for.

It’s also about developing resilience and confidence. Competitors get to work alongside other young people from schools and colleges across the North East and they get to demonstrate the journey they’ve been on in terms of learning and skills development.

During each competition, learners perform practical tasks, based on real-life work based scenarios which demonstrate the skills needed in the workplace.

Employers are involved right from the start of each competition, helping to set the brief for the tasks and acting as part of the judging panel. For our recent hairdressing competition we worked with the Association of Hairdressers and Therapists, and the Park Head Hotel in Bishop Auckland is working with us on the restaurant services competition which is coming up in May.

As well as the regional inter-college competitions, we also put learners forward to take part in WorldSkills UK, which involves qualifying heats across the UK and a national final in Birmingham. These cover an even wider range of topics, like health and social care, media and IT.

In 2015, Ben Joyce was the first competitor from the North East to take part in a national final, winning Gold in data processing. He was then chosen to represent the UK at the Abilympics in Bordeaux, winning 6th place in the world finals before going on to secure a full time role as a payments clerk.

Every year we’re seeing more and more learners getting involved – this year we’re expecting up to 150 competitors – and we’d love to see even more employers getting involved alongside them.

It’s about seeing the skills and talent that young people in our region have and how they can be a part of your industry. It’s a great way of meeting potential employees and seeing them in action and you also have the opportunity to help shape the competitions, making sure that learners are gaining the types of skills that employers really need.

Registrations for WorldSkills UK competitions are open until 2 April and you can find more information about all the skills competitions available for 2020 here.  

Anyone interested in finding out more about inclusive skills competitions in the North East can get in touch with Colin at [email protected].