David Cragg - Deputy Chair of The Skills Show

David Cragg talks about his involvement in WorldSkills and The Skills Show.

12 October 2012 / Be the first to comment

David Cragg is deputy chair of The Skills Show, the UK’s biggest skills and careers event. Starting his career as an FE language teacher, Cragg has received an MBE and an OBE for his work promoting vocational training, as well as a CBE for services to education and skills.

The government asked me to oversee WorldSkills International, which was to be held in London in 2011...

These are international skills competitions hosted by a different country every two years; the UK hadn’t held one since 1989.

I was a very reluctant volunteer when I was first asked – I was getting ready to hang up my boots – but it was the best decision I ever made.

The whole rationale of 2011 was to recognise that public awareness of vocational training and skills is poor. People know about universities, that they deliver degrees, but there is a lack of knowledge and understanding about vocational training.

The Skills Show is a legacy of 2011; it brings UK skills competitions to one place at one time, and we want to raise young people’s aspirations.

WorldSkills London had an amazing impact on young people…

14- to 18-year-olds are hard to please, but 90% said they enjoyed it – you could see that by how many brought their parents back on the Saturday.

The numbers were incredible -there were 200,000 visitors, with 2300 schools and colleges represented and 1000 people competing from 51 countries. It felt and looked spectacular.

Sport and hospitality were very popular; people also tried out construction and technology-based manufacturing, robotics and stonemasonry. Young people would say, ‘I didn’t realise all these opportunities existed.’ We have to be realistic in the current economic climate, but the opportunities are there.

City & Guilds was one of the premier sponsors of London 2011…

The commitment was an incredible leap of faith. It wasn’t just the sponsorship but their direct involvement, their professional knowledge and capacity. It was crucial to us and I’m delighted they’ve renewed their commitment to The Skills Show in 2012.

I went to a grammar school in the late 1950s…

The only vocational options were for the ‘less able’. Boys did woodwork, girls did domestic science and I’m not sure careers education was even on the agenda!

The sense of the original WorldSkills is central to what we are doing, we have the same challenge of poor understanding of vocational skills and over-concentration on academic skills.

I never expected to receive three awards in the Queen’s Birthday Honours…

With the first one I thought, well that is a surprise, the second one was even more of a shock. This time, seven people associated with WorldSkills London got public awards, and that is a fantastic tribute.

Held at the NEC Birmingham from 15-17 November, this year’s Skills Show will play host to a range of skills competitions, awards and activities. Find out more at the World Skills UK website

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