Skills minister Matthew Hancock has called for more young people in Britain to focus on skills, in particular engineering.
Mr Hancock praised the employers, exhibitors and in particular the young people competing in the skills finals at the NEC Birmingham over the next three days.
He said: “This is about children and young adults looking at what they can do in their careers.
“Some of the things I have seen are incredible, whether it is learning to weld on a virtual welding machine or some of the hi-tech graphic design, or the much more traditional apprenticeships like the cabinet-making team – everything is here.
“It really shows how valuable engineering and the sort of skills you can get through apprenticeships with vocational education really are.”
Some of the most competitive finals are the 11 engineering categories and Mr Hancock said it was this sector in particular which was so important to the UK’s economy.
“It is true in Britain in areas like computing and engineering there are skills gaps, but it is deeper than that because there are a record number of jobs being created in the economy,” he said.
“We have to make sure young British kids have the skills to get the jobs, so whether it is the basic skills like English and Maths or some of the most exciting things we are seeing here today, making sure those skills are available and inspiring kids as to what they can get out of it if they learn those skills – that is what this is all about. It is showcasing the best.”