World Skills UK courts new organiser for 2014

The Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) and the HTA are in talks to run World Skills UK for landscapers from 2014 after BALI withdrew because of funding concerns.

World Skills UK, which feeds into an international network, pits skilled apprentices and students, ranging from welders to beauty therapists, against each other in a series of industry-based challenges.

There are heats in each country and a biennial international tournament to be next held in Brazil in 2015.

APL chairman Mark Gregory said: "World Skills is a well-kept secret. I feel very strongly about it. Anything that puts skills and training at the top, as an industry we have to get behind it."

He suggested a higher level of support for competitors, who could, for example, be released from work to take part in RHS flower shows.

BALI ran the competition for most of this century but suffered from a cut in Government funding and difficulties getting sponsorship during the recession. City & Guilds moving its sponsorship from World Skills UK to the international World Skills was a particularly big funding loss.

Chief executive officer Wayne Grills said: "We made a decision at board level not to run it this year. For the past two years we lost between £5,000 and £10,000 and we couldn't justify that with our members' money, even though it fits in with BALI objectives completely."

Grills said running the landscape gardening section of World Skills UK costs up to £40,000 a year, with only £5,000 to £10,000 funding from the National Apprenticeship Service.

"I think it's a great thing to get involved in and it's a great shame that there wasn't a greater commitment from our own industry," he said.


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