Science skills showcase

Skills showcase for young talent

The next generation of scientists and engineers has been given a unique chance to shine –with the help of Prospect.


In October, the union helped organise the first ever union-led competition at the WorldSkills 2011 event at the ExCel Centre, London, viewed by more than 200,000 visitors.

The union worked with a range of partners, including members at the British Geological Survey, supported by WorldSkills UK, in devising an environmental science competition.

Five teams from the UK and one from the Netherlands were asked to design a sustainable energy solution for an island community; build a renewable energy generator; and present a report to judges justifying their solution and winning over members of the local community.

Head of research for Prospect, Sue Ferns said: “The WorldSkills event is an exciting shop window for young talent to demonstrate their skills and dedication to solving tomorrow’s problems.

“It is a great opportunity for young people to show prospective employers that they represent the future of engineering and science. Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the UK and world economy.

“It is essential to attract skilled and motivated young scientists to work in this vital area. Prospect is proud to have played a part in raising awareness of the opportunities that exist for them to make a difference.”

Principal sponsors of the competition were the Tec Trust Fund and the National Skills Academy for Power, supported by BGS, Semta, Unionlearn, EAL, Green Collar Academy, Summit Skills, National Nuclear Laboratory and Energy Solutions.

Jacqui Henderson, trustee of the Tec Trust Fund said: “Science, maths, engineering, manufacturing and technology skills are now recognised as essential to the future wellbeing of the UK economy.”

Steve Davies, chief executive of the power skills academy, said: “The power sector is facing increasingly critical skills issues, which if not addressed now will have a dramatic impact on electricity supply in the UK and the government’s energy and low carbon strategies.”

Tom Wilson, director of unionlearn, hailed the opportunity to recognise that excelling in making things and doing things is just as valuable as academic ability. “Evidence shows that where unions and employers work together they can develop the skills of staff to compete in a competitive global market.”

Teams from Newcastle College and Pembrokeshire College won gold and silver medals repectively at the competition.