Festo Didactic, the professional training and consulting division of Festo, was applauded as the first Premier Partner from industry of the WorldSkills 2011 competition, during a celebratory reception held at 11 Downing Street on 27 February 2007. Festo and City & Guilds – arguably the UK's leading awarding body for work-related qualifications – are the first two sponsors to confirm pledges of substantial funding for the event.
Gary Wyles, Managing Director of Festo Ltd, who was present at the reception, said: "Obviously Festo is pleased to be supporting this vital opportunity to showcase the skills of young engineers in UK-based manufacturing. It was particularly pleasing to see the level of commitment to the event from the UK Government. For manufacturing, in particular, the continuous development of vocational skills from school years into employment is critical in ensuring that UK industry can continue to compete in global markets."
WorldSkills is a not-for-profit organisation that was established specifically to raise the status and standards of vocational skills and training. Founded in 1953, it currently has 48 member nations. The WorldSkills competition is held every two years and is now one of the largest skills competitions in the world. In 2007 the competition will be held in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, and in 2009 it will be held in Calgary, Canada.
The Downing Street reception celebrated the successful bid for the 2011 WorldSkills competition to be held in London, which was spearheaded by UK Skills. Chris Humphries, Chairman of UK Skills and Director General of the City & Guilds London Institute, publicised the latest plans for the event and the need for employers to become engaged so that the UK produces a record number of medal winners in 2011.
Hosted by the Treasury, the reception was attended by a large number of business, education and government leaders. On behalf of the Government, John Healey MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, was keen to specifically thank Festo and City & Guilds, as the first two premier partners, on their commitment to vocational training.