vocational excellence

Project 5: WorldSkills Competitors and Entrepreneurship


Project 5 WorldSkills competitors and entrepreneurship

Executive Summary: 

Research Brief Project 5

This project examined entrepreneurial experiences of those young people who represented the UK at WorldSkills Competitions. We aimed to understand how and in what contexts WorldSkills competitors discovered, evaluated, and exploited opportunities to become entrepreneurial. We conducted individual semi-structured interviews with WorldSkills competitors. We collected qualitative and quantitative data and employed a combination of thematic and statistical techniques for the data analysis. The sample of 40 participants included 30 entrepreneurial individuals: 13 entrepreneurs; four intrapreneurs; and 13 latent entrepreneurs. These participants represented 21 skill categories. Ten competitors interviewed were not interested in entrepreneurship and this group represented eight skill categories.

A variety of individual and contextual factors influence the development of entrepreneurship. In this study we focused on four individual-level factors – social capital, psychological capital, human capital, and entrepreneurial motivation – and two contextual factors – industry-specific conditions and geographical context. The data analysis on entrepreneurial inclinations by sector indicated that entrepreneurship has strong sectoral properties.  Three sectors of economic activity (Construction and Building Technology; Manufacturing and Engineering Technology; and Creative Arts and Fashion) were used to illustrate that cultures and structures of different industries are important when looking at the propensity of WorldSkills competitors to become entrepreneurial. The geographical location of a business is also central to an understanding of the specifics of firm creation and development.

We established links between WorldSkills competitors’ social capital, psychological capital, human capital and how the competition experience contributed to the enhancement of different dimensions of these three types of capital as well as to the development of entrepreneurial motivation. Our research findings pointed towards the conclusion that training for and participation in WorldSkills enabled entrepreneurship by developing competitors’ social networks, psychological characteristics, and technical and business interaction skills. However, it also emerged that the majority of entrepreneurial competitors had been entrepreneurial before they became involved with WorldSkills. Entrepreneurial motivation often preceded participants’ engagement with competitions.


WorldSkills competitors and entrepreneurs presentation on strengths and limitations of the study design, data analysis, and findings – Maia Chankseliani’s presentation at Qual Hub, Department of Education, University of Oxford (18 June, 2015).


Dr Susan James, University of Oxford, susan.james@education.ox.ac.uk

Dr Maia Chankseliani, University of Oxford, maia.chankseliani@education.ox.ac.uk