Union's competition wins place at 'Skills Olympics'

Union's competition wins place at 'Skills Olympics'

Scientists’ union Prospect has won the World Skills UK Partner of the Year award for the union’s work in developing an environmental science competition.

The competition is aimed at young people who have an interest in sustainable natural resource exploitation, sustainable energy production, environmental protection and climate change.

It aims to raise skills and awareness in science, engineering and related disciplines.

It was designed utilising the expertise of Prospect members at the British Geological Survey in close collaboration with a unique combination of Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) and with support from Natural England, unionlearn and STEMNET.

Competitors, working in small multi-disciplinary teams, are tasked with devising the ‘best’ combination of energy supply for a purpose-designed, generic island, for the next 30 years.

They need to analyse information and data to produce a report and present findings as well as completing a practical challenge to produce a source of small-scale energy production.

Prospect’s Head of Research Sue Ferns said: “I am delighted to receive this award, which truly reflects the commitment and hard work of everyone involved in organising the competition.

“It addresses one of the most important challenges facing the UK and we are aiming high for the future. Although this is one of the newest UK competitions, we have secured agreement that it will feature at World Skills 2011.”

World Skills is an international competition, sometimes described at the Skills Olympics. The 2010 competition final was sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government, Semta and Cogent SSCs and took place at Pembrokeshire College in late June.

The winning team of apprentices employed at Chevron – Jessica Holmes, Craig Robertson and Ashley Bolton – were joined by others from across the UK and the Netherlands. The apprentices also received their awards at the WorldSkills UK event, held at London’s IMAX cinema in early November.

Lynn Tomkins, Operations Director of Semta, said: “In 2008 Semta became a key founder and organiser of the WorldSkills’ UK environmental science competition, continuing to support and sponsor this initiative throughout its development and delivery.

“Semta, as the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering, Manufacturing Technologies, recognises science as a key sector and sees this competition as a key initiative to inspire young people to undertake STEM as a career.”

Competitors who took part in the 2010 event included students from Pembrokeshire and Newcastle Colleges who reported having thoroughly enjoyed the event.

As well as confirming their commitment to go on to study science, they pointed out the wider benefits saying:

“I now understand the complexities in maintaining an economy and jobs as well as improving the environment and how factors interlink,” and

“although we didn’t always have the same ideas, we listened to each other …. this experience has taught me very important life skills such as team work, leadership and problem solving.

The environmental science competition will be a demonstration competition at World Skills to be held in London’s Excel Centre from October 5-8, 2011.

The 2010 competition was sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government, Semta, Natural England and Cogent Sector Skills Council. Lantra, Energy and Utility Skills, unionlearn and STEMNET also supported the competition.