Welsh competitors named in Team UK line up for European showdown
Three young people from Wales have been selected to take on the crème de la crème of their European peers in the first big skills pressure test of the post Brexit era – EuroSkills.
The competitors from Wales are Sam Everton, Phoebe McLavy and Rhys Watts and they will make up a 14-strong squad of the best young apprentices and professionals in the UK, to compete in Graz, Austria in January (6 – 10).
Sam Everton, aged 23 from Cilgerran in Pembrokeshire, works at luxury hotel The Grove in Narberth as chef de partie. He said: “It’s a great honour to be selected and I am very excited to see what comes next. The journey so far has been amazing and I’m looking forward to the next stage.” Sam won a medallion of excellence in Kazan last year at WorldSkills and has also competed in Australia and China.
Phoebe McLavy, aged 21 lives in Ross-on-Wye and works at Reds Hair Salon as a hairstylist. She said: “It feels absolutely amazing to be selected for Team UK and I can’t wait to get to the competition and show everybody what I have been training for almost three years for.” Phoebe competed in WorldSkills in Kazan, Russia in 2019 and scooped a Bronze medal.
Rhys Watts, 19 from Swansea, is an apprentice Electronics Technician at Gower College. He said: “This is my first time competing at this level. When I found out I had been selected I was lost for words. It’s helped me build confidence in myself already.”
The team, who have been selected, trained and mentored by education and skills charity WorldSkills UK, will do battle with more than 500 competitors from 28 countries who practice 45 different skills disciplines.
The competition was postponed due to the Covid crisis and is seen as an important indicator as to how the UK’s skills systems measure up against key economic competitors across Europe.
Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates, said: “High level skills are vital to the success of the Welsh economy and will be key to our recovery from the severe impact of coronavirus.
“That’s why we have announced a significant £40m jobs and skills support package which will be absolutely essential in helping employers to take on and train new workers, including apprentices and young people.
“It’s clear colleges and businesses across all parts of Wales are helping develop some of the very best talent at this level, and I would like to wish Sam, Phoebe and Rhys the best of luck. To be selected for Team UK is a tremendous achievement and they should each be very proud of themselves for earning the opportunity to compete on the international stage.”
Team UK will compete in a broad spectrum of disciplines ranging from engineering to construction, hospitality and digital and creative.
Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE said: “Forget the Euros next season, this is going to be epic, and far more fundamental to the future of our country – demonstrating the next generation is developing the skills we need to help build back better our economy and remain internationally competitive.
“There has been so much conjecture as to how the United Kingdom will fare in terms of skills performance. The competition with 27 of our near neighbours across the continent will be a brilliant benchmark and show what Team UK is made of.”
The fourteen competitors have already been through an exhaustive year-long process of regional competition, national finals and team selection to get to this point. Now they face months of intensive training aimed at raising standards to elite international level, under the guidance of WorldSkills UK Training Managers.
Governments and industry will be watching with interest to benchmark how well Team UK performs compared to the country’s main European competitors. At the previous EuroSkills finals, held in 2018 in Budapest – Team UK finished ninth. WorldSkills UK will use its participation in the EuroSkills competition to direct the work of its Centre of Excellence, in partnership with NCFE, which utilises WorldSkills UK’s unique insights into European and global skills systems to mainstream excellence in skills development.