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Ellie - Squad UK Visual Merchandising competitor

Ellie, who was selected for the Squad UK Visual Merchandising team after winning a Silver Medal at the National Finals explains how being part of our training programme has given her the skills and confidence to succeed in her career.

Ellie in her Squad UK t-shirt

Wednesday, 02 Sep 2020

Ellie Ruff decided to combine studying graphic design and visual merchandising. “I chose a technical route so I could concentrate on one subject rather than A Levels where I would have to take on multiple subjects and not be able to focus on the things I really enjoy.”

Ellie had seen WorldSkills UK Competitions in action from her school and college visits to WorldSkills UK LIVE, The UK’s largest skills, careers and apprenticeships event which hosts the National Finals at the NEC Birmingham, attracting thousands of spectators. Even so, she wasn’t sure event then that competing was for her. “I’d always just seen it as an event, not something I would ever compete in.”

Little did she know then that she would triumph at the WorldSkills UK Competition National Qualifiers in 2019 and go on to compete in the National Finals later that year, capping it by winning a Silver Medal.

Ellie feels that competing has enhanced her learning experience,

“The best part of competing is being able to learn skills that are not completely like the course I have been studying, learning a new element of design I did not know existed, or how interesting it really was. I study graphic design which is advertising, but visual merchandising is a whole different type of advertising.

"It’s helped me develop my design and creativity which helps with my studies greatly.”

Overcoming a lack of self-confidence was the biggest barrier to her success that she successfully overcame, “I became more confident in myself that I was good enough and I could do it. As I practised and became more confident in my skill, I had more confidence in myself.”

Even with her new-found confidence Ellie was happy and surprised to be selected for Squad UK. “My favourite part so far is being able to talk to people from other skills and learn about their journeys so far and what skills they require.” As a member of Squad UK Ellie is undergoing the intensive skillset and mindset training which is unique to WorldSkills UK and which will prepare her for possible selection for Team UK and the chance to represent the UK on the international stage and she’s rightly very excited about it. “To be able to compete at those levels would be an amazing feeling!”

Asked what advice she would have for someone thinking of entering WorldSkills UK Competitions Ellie says, “Do it, you may not think you will make it but as you start competing and making your way through the rounds you will develop so many skills and gain a new level of confidence in yourself.”

Ellie plans to have a career in the creative sphere. “I want to become a graphic designer but being able to be creative and use my skills not letting them go to waste.” Preparing for a future career is an important step and she believes that young people need to be encouraged to explore choices saying, “We need to change the stereotype that A Levels are for ‘smarter’ people. BTecs and apprenticeships really help you develop skills that are needed in the job roles you want rather than just learning from a textbook and taking exams.”

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