World Skills UK

Raising standards in apprenticeships and technical education

WorldSkills UK

WorldSkills UK is an independent charity and a partnership between employers, education, and governments. They are using international best practice to raise standard in apprenticeships and technical education so more young people and employers succeed.

Size: 6,000+ competitors in 2023






WorldSkills UK

World Skills is a global charity that organises National and International level championships for vocational skills, to support and build a ‘skills economy’ through embedded world-class training standards. Vocational skills are split into six major competitions with no age limit. Anyone is free to enter the national competition, however, at the international level, there are limits on each skill due to the duration and location of the competition.

High-quality, industry-aligned training resources are key to supporting teachers and their students throughout the competition stages, providing informative resources and the ability to gain digital badges and certifications. A key programme for World Skills UK is the Cisco Networking Academy, which supports competitors preparing for Network Infrastructure Technician and Cybersecurity competitions with Cybersecurity and IT pathways.

“With free entry, there is no reason not to enter and give it a try. Everyone should take the opportunity to test their skills, regardless of the result, taking part in the competition is an advantage in a job application” 

Toby Bell, IT Competition Organiser at World Skills.

The Competition Evolution and Preparation

As education and industry evolve, so do the World Skills competitors. Initially, World Skills competitors came from Further Education, however, competitors now also come from Higher Education courses such as HND, HNC, university-delivered degrees, and degree apprenticeships. Although educational institutions and their teachers provide competitors, students are welcome to put themselves forward. 

The IT competitions are closed book, meaning the competition tasks are developed by independent developers and during the competition, competitors have no access to the internet. Not only does this increase the competition difficulty and breadth, but it also increases the need for skill development and revision before embarking on competitions. 

In the weeks building up to the competition, a high-level specification is released providing students and teachers an idea of what may come up during the competition. Competitors will use this to prepare by practising for the challenge ahead with the tools and areas shared.

“If you are from school, college, or university and have the basic skills and the willingness to compete, go for it. At the national level, there is time to learn and progress to a higher level, they do not expect you to have master-level skills.” 

Nitheesh Kaliyamurthy, Senior Lecturer and World Skills UK Training Manager.

The Cisco Networking Academy and WorldSkills UK 

The Cisco Networking Academy is often used as the basis for IT competition prep. Instructors use free courses and resources on offer, such as CCNA for the Network Infrastructure competition and IT Essentials for the IT Support Technician competition. The Cisco Networking Academy is also used in conjunction with the newest competition, Cybersecurity through courses like CyberOps Associate courses. 


World Skills is not simply a competition provider; it is a lifelong skill development hub that provides essential skills to the future workforce. As such, the organisation’s strategy and ethos align strongly with the Cisco Networking Academy, which also places a strong emphasis on preparing students for the workplace with hands-on, industry-aligned skills and experiences. As Kevin MacLean, Curriculum Quality Leader and World Skills National Competition Organising Partner for Cybersecurity, states “nothing beats putting skills to use and gaining real-life experience”.

WorldSkills UK Results 

Regardless of where they place at the end of the competition, competitors gain hands-on, transferable skills that employers value. By gaining digital badges and certifications through the Cisco Networking Academy and participating in programmes like World Skills, competitors are sure to stand out from the crowd in recruitment processes. Moreover, competitors that achieve 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place at the national level may go on to compete in the European competition. From there, the international finalists will get picked for the World Skills International competition. 

One competitor, a student from New College Durham, achieved a national finalist place in thethe IT Software Solutions for Business competition in 2019. Although originally studying music, they were inspired by the crossover of music and technology to pursue a career in IT. Seeing their potential, a tutor encouraged them to compete and complete supporting Networking Academy certifications. From there the passion for IT grew and grew, and the student made it through regional heats into the national finals. Find out more here