Thirteen students and apprentices from Northern Ireland have been named in the UK squad hoping to compete at the WorldSkills competition in Lyon next year.
A total of 94 young people from around the UK will now begin an 18-month intensive training programme in the hope of being selected for the final UK team to compete against their counterparts from over 80 nations in Lyon in September 2024.
All squad members will undertake specialist training programmes with WorldSkills UK to help prepare them for competition by developing both their technical and mindset skills.
Heather Cousins, Head of Skills and Education at the Department for the Economy, congratulated the local members selected for the UK squad:
"This is fantastic news. For Northern Ireland to gain 13 places on the UK squad demonstrates, once again, the strength of the talent we have here. Each one of the locally selected competitors can be very proud of their achievements.
"I am also particularly pleased that five of our local further education colleges, as well as one private training provider and one business, are represented amongst those selected. This is testament to the diversity of the training offering we have here.
"And in Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week, it is heartening that six of the 13 squad members are apprentices.
"The success of all the squad members is evidence of what can be achieved on the national and international stage and I wish the whole squad the very best as they go forward for further specialist training."
The squad will be guided through their training by a team of highly skilled trainers, industry experts, former medal winners and performance coaches to help them prepare for the pressure of competing at such a high level. The final team to represent the UK on the international stage will be announced in the spring of 2024.
The competition, to be staged in Lyon, France, next year, is a biennial event run by WorldSkills International that tests young people's skills in a host of technical disciplines.
For more information on WorldSkills Lyon 2024 can be found at World Skills 2024.
For more information on apprenticeships, can be found on the nidirect website.