Finding Hidden Talent – Inclusive Skills Competitions


Winners of "Display Your Wares" competition


There are many places that employers can look in order to find talented people. Last month I was honoured to be at the launch of six Inclusive Skills Competitions. These are organised by the National Association of Specialist Colleges, and are a great opportunity for students with learning and other disabilities from those colleges to showcase their skills.

The first competition, held at the launch at Derwen College in Shropshire, was called “Display Your Wares” and was a competition in visual merchandising. The competition was very stiff, with all teams displaying their goods in very creative and unique ways.

The winners, Emily and Robyn, are pictured here, with Kirsty Hoadley, from Selfridges, who was one of the judges.



The six competitions that will be held this year are:

  • Display Your Wares (visual merchandising)
  • Housekeeping for Hens (animal husbandry)
  • Introduction to a Gym (sports sciences)
  • Gift of the Gab (presentation skills)
  • The Band (musical performance)
  • Cloud 9 Film Festival (film production)
Speaking at the launch of the Inclusive Skills Competitions

I am very privileged to be the Patron of these skills competitions, and was able to speak at the launch about the benefits of employing talented young disabled people like these students, and why employers would be lucky to have them.

Just watching the hard work, concentration, dedication and pride that these young people took in putting their plans into practice was humbling, and all teams deserved their trophies and certificates.

This is the first year of the competitions and they are already proving to be a success. My hope is that we will build on this next year with more competitions, and more employers becoming involved – whether through sponsorship, judging or just coming along to spy out the talent of tomorrow.

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5 thoughts on “Finding Hidden Talent – Inclusive Skills Competitions

  1. Great titles for each competition. As Suze says, it’s a super initiative and one that you as Patron can be rightly proud of. I am sure there will be a wealth of hidden talent to uncover


  2. That reminds me, I worked as a ‘Saturday girl’ in Allders of Croydon when I was 16. I remember being left in charge of the Easter egg display at the foot of the escalator. I piled them up in tidy groups, and my boss was extremely pleased because sales increased as a result. Just goes to show the power of visual merchandising! A great cause, and congratulations to you for being the patron.


  3. I’ve seen competitions for school children before and always thought they were very useful, giving confidence and teaching useful skills for the future workplace. It’s great to see this being done in the disabled sector, the benefits must be immeasurable.

    One thing it really helps with is giving people interesting things that they can talk about in job interviews and that’s really helpful. Often it’s people who have traveled who have the advantage of stories to tell so this is a really good experience in that respect.


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