World Skills UK Live is an online event that is presented as a general careers event for young people. In reality, it is about promoting the military and the arms trade.
It will take place online from Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th November.
The event's main spsonor is multinational arms company BAE Systems. Other sponsors include the army, navy, air force and the arms company Leonardo. Of the 24 scheduled sessions, 10 of them are run by arms companies or parts of the armed forces. No other industry has more than one session.
Nadiya Hussain, popular writer and star of The Great British Bake Off, is due to be the celebrity speaker at the event, on Saturday 28th November.
Anya Nanning Ramamurthy, a 19-year-old pacifist activist (pictured below), has written to Nadiya Hussain on behalf of the Peace Pledge Union's younger members, asking her to withdraw from the event. This is her letter.
Dear Nadiya Hussain,
I hope you are doing okay during these different and possibly challenging times.
I am writing to call on you to withdraw your participation in the WorldSkills UK LIVE online event at which you are scheduled to speak. I'm writing as a young member of Peace Pledge Union who is currently exploring what career paths I could take. I understand the value of careers events and have found it really helpful to have the opportunity to speak to people in different fields and listen to inspiring individuals talk about their journey and how they've got to where they are. I strongly believe that all young people deserve to explore their possible career paths and future plans through a balanced and ethical lens.
You may or may not know that the event is being sponsored by BAE systems and other supporters include the army, navy, and the arms company Leonardo, meaning that this event is neither politically or ethically neutral. This, I am appalled to see. BAE systems is the third largest arms producer in the world and are largely responsible for the deaths of thousands in Yemen and the creation of a humanitarian disaster. As War Child UK has stated, BAE systems are "profiteering from the deaths of innocent children". The fact that BAE is sponsoring an event which is meant to support children and young people to explore where their future could go, is, for me, abhorrent and I can’t quite believe.
I know that you care a lot about the development and care of young people and their wellbeing. Your book ‘My monster and me’ is beautiful at demonstrating this and supporting many to have discussions around wellbeing. I’m sure you’d agree that these beliefs and morals are not compatible with BAE’s work and the destruction it causes. You have said, “My family are my be all and end all...And it’s the children who inspire me…” I’m sure this is the same for many and I cannot imagine the pain and suffering families go through when they’re torn apart and lose loved ones.
According to Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), since the start of its attacks on Yemen, BAE has sold at least £15 billion in arms and services to the Saudi military. Over 12,600 individuals have lost their lives to targeted attacks, which BAE have been largely responsible for. Now, Yemen is at risk of falling back into a hunger crisis, with almost 100,000 children at risk of dying in Yemen and malnutrition in southern Yemen rising to 15% for children under five. You can find out more about BAE’s involvement with the war in Yemen on CAAT’s website (https://caat.org.uk/resources/companies/bae-systems/).
I’m working with the Peace Pledge Union to bring public attention to the ethical incompatibilities of arms manufacturers' involvement in careers’ events, and we intend to create more publicity around this and everyday militarism.
I’m writing to call on you to reconsider your participation with this event, whilst BAE systems are sponsoring it. I am calling on you to step back from this event, please.
Anya Nanning Ramamurthy