Maureen and I were delighted to be invited to the fantastic Worldskills UK Live Event at the NEC Birmingham as guests of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC). Chris Causer, the Chairman of the Craft Committee, and his wife Gilly were also invited guests of the NFRC.

The aim of WorldSkills UK is to improve the prestige of apprenticeships and technical education, to inspire more young people to consider these as career routes and get off to a better start in work and life. They achieve this by working with leading employers, FE Colleges, Independent Training Providers and Universities to enable young people to gain knowledge and skills in an extensive number of diverse career opportunities, including Engineering and Technology, Digital Business and Creative, Health, Hospitality and Lifestyle, and of course, the ever important Construction and Infrastructure Industries. WorldSkills UK LIVE is the nation’s largest skills and careers event that helps to shape the future of a new generation.

We met with representatives of the NFRC on the evening of 22nd November at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole. Our hosts were Bob Richardson (Head of Technical and Training Services), Simon Dixon (Training and Technical Manager) and Kevin Taylor, Senior Vice President. Also present were the all important sponsors of the event, other senior members and staff of the NFRC, plus our own Liveryman Andy Rowlands and his wife Diane. We were greeted warmly by everyone and got to know the staff and the workings of the organisation over dinner and drinks, which was very pleasant indeed. We were made to feel very much at home and everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming. Huge thanks must go to Jo Lear who organised the event so efficiently and made sure that everything went to plan.

The next morning, following breakfast, we made our way to the NEC for the Worldskills Live event, and what we saw there took our breath away. It is a truly amazing event, showcasing some of our brightest and best young people who were proudly exhibiting their many and varied talents. At the heart of the exhibition are the National Finals of the Worldskills UK Competitions, where these amazing young people battle it out with the aim of being crowned the "UK's best" in their chosen skill. We visited many stands, but focused on our three trades of Bricklaying, Wall and Floor Tiling and Roof Slating and Tiling.



It was a great pleasure for me to be introduced to all the competitors for the Roof Slating and Tiling event and spend a little time with each to understand their career path and future aspirations. They were truly inspirational young people who will undoubtedly go far. I was also very pleased to hand a certificate of merit to each of them for taking part. Unfortunately only one of them can win the ultimate prize (which was going to be revealed later at a magnificent awards ceremony), but as far as I am concerned, they were all winners.

We left the NEC full of praise for the fantastic work of all the entrants and also full of admiration for the amazing work of the NFRC in supporting their trades and all the young aspiring craftsmen and craftswomen. We had a truly marvellous time and were very grateful to Bob Richardson and the team for their friendliness, warm welcome and hospitality.