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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 December 2005, 01:30 GMT
UK bid to host skills competition
Finnish beauty therapy contestant, World Skills 2005
Finland hosted the last competition
The government is putting 11m behind London's bid to replicate its Olympics success, by hosting the 2011 World Skills competition.

The money is intended to match private and public sector support in meeting the costs of the biennial event.

Organisers UK Skills see it as a chance to showcase vocational talent.

Hundreds of young people from the major industrialised countries will compete for medals in 40 events, from beauty therapy to stonemasonry.


Andrew Blair, a panel beater from County Antrim, won one of the gold medals in autobody repair at the last World Skills in Helsinki earlier this year, in which the UK finished in 12th place.

"Some people think that only people who did badly at school work in a garage," he said.

"I hope my gold medal will show them they're wrong.

"It was great to represent my country and to beat off strong challenges from Japan and Korea proving that the UK is the world's best for autobody repair."

Standards and esteem

Earlier this month, a government-commissioned report by Lord Leitch warned that the UK was in danger of falling behind internationally because of a skills shortage.

UK auto repair contestant
Skills competitions are being used increasingly as part of the strategy to drive up standards and raise the esteem of vocational training
Chris Humphries
UK Skills
The chair of UK Skills, Chris Humphries, said involvement in World Skills was of paramount importance as an opportunity to showcase the UK's know-how.

"Skills competitions are being used increasingly as part of the strategy to drive up standards and raise the esteem of vocational training," he said.

"Combined with our recent success in bidding for the Olympic Games there has never been a better time for the UK to stage World Skills."

England's Skills Minister, Phil Hope, said the event "has the potential to change the way that we train, and to touch the lives of many people for years to come".

The devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are backing the bid, which pits London against Melbourne in Australia, Nantes in France and Gothenburg, Sweden.

The final decision on which city will host the contest will be announced next May, following presentations by the candidate countries.

The government's financial pledge matches support, in cash and in kind, promised by the private, public and voluntary sectors.

But Mr Humphries called for more support from businesses.

"World Skills provides the opportunity for UK industry to shine on a prestigious international platform," he said.

"But we need business to come on board. Hosting an event of this magnitude will not only require funding, but also the equipment, raw materials and consumables used by the competitors."

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