IT’S NOT just athletes who compete in international competitions.
The UK also has a squad of young people with vocational skills - ranging from florists and beauty therapists to fashion designers, engineers and cabinet makers.
In September this year, the best and brightest will be travelling to Calgary in Canada to take part in the WorldSkills 2009 event.
Competing against students and other young people from 50 other countries, the 60-strong UK team currently has representatives from 28 skills.
Katie-Ann Eardley, who is a third year student on the Huddersfield University Fashion and Design with Manufacturing honours degree course, has already survived one round of competitions in order to qualify for the UK squad.
She is now facing a further selection to see if she has a place on the team bound for Calgary.
“It’s down to me and one other student. It’s going to be hard because we’ve become quite good friends so we’ve agreed that we’re not competing against each other, we are competing against the marks scheme,’’ said Katie-Ann (21)
In April, Katie-Ann will received a design brief and will have until June to come up with the preparatory work. She will then have 18 hours to create a final, finished garment for the competition, which is being held in Coventry.
The garment featured on this page was created under similar competition conditions when Katie-Ann won her place in the squad.
Currently, on a year’s work placement with top designer label Karen Millen in London, Katie-Ann is employed as a technical assistant. “I help everyone in the pattern room, the sample machinists and pattern cutters,’’ she said.
“I think my strength lies in the technical side rather than design so I’d like to go into pattern cutting or be a garment technologist when I leave uni.’’
If Katie-Ann is successful in winning a place on the team she will get an expenses-paid trip to Canada and the chance to give her career a head start. Even being chosen for the team will look good on her CV.
“To have the opportunity to compete against the best in the world would be amazing,’’ she said.
Katie-Ann, who is originally from Wigan, will be back in Huddersfield later this year for her final year at university.
* The WorldSkills Competition is the biggest skills competition in the world and is held every two years by one of its member countries. It will be in London in 2011. The UK’s WorldSkills team is managed by UK SKill, working in partnership with key partners from education, government and industry. Its aim is to raise the profile of skills and showcase the world’s most talented young people. Gold, silver and bronze medals are up for grabs in more than 40 categories.
The official supporter of Squad UK and Team UK is Edge, an independent educational foundation dedicated to raising the status of vocational and practical learning.