The world’s greatest and most prestigious skills competition, 44th edition of the Worldskills Competition – and the largest event ever to have been held in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), UAE under the patronage of H.H. General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan – came to a remarkable end on Wednesday. A biannual competition where youth from all over the world come together to compete over skills of their choice and get trained as promising talent across different industries, was first time ever hosted by the Middle East – North Africa (MENA) region.

As grand as the Worldskills Competition is in itself, the timing for Abu Dhabi to host the 2017 event makes it hugely more important as it falls in congruence with the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 that aims at transforming the economic structure of the UAE with the use of advanced knowledge and skills at its core. “The aim of the event is to inspire young people to study technical education and vocational skills for entrepreneurship or for their career, in line with the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030,” said Mubarak Saeed Al Shamsi, Director General of ACTVET.

The intense 4 days..

The Worldskills event was preceded by unlimited hours and months of preparation by some 1300 competitors from 60 countries and regions around the world to compete in the skill of their choice from 51 different categories from cooking to beauty therapy to robotics and other advanced technologies. Around 10,000 international visitors and 100,000 visitors from the region came to enjoy and benefit from the event. THE UAE team being largest comprising of 34 students competed in 31 skills, and this figure alone shows the diligence of the local youth towards the significance of the event.

Spanning over 4 days, the Worldskills Competition, comprised a host of initiatives and programs. There were six different sectors in which all the competitions fell. The Construction and Building Technology category involved different aspects of building such as architecture, landscaping, plumbing, electrical fittings, flooring and the interiors like carpentry and joinery. Manufacturing and Engineering sector featured mechatronics, polymechanics, automation and the like. Transportation and Logistics category dealt with automobile technology and freight maintenance.

Lifestyle elements such as hairdressing, beauty therapy and cooking made up the Health and Social Care. Artistic faculties like floristry, fashion technology, graphic designing as well as 3D designing came under Creative Arts and Fashion Jewelry.

Other than all the competitions, a prominent feature of the event was the ‘One School One Country’ cultural exchange program where different schools in Abu Dhabi were each visited by one school delegation from the participating countries.

The event however kicked off with the all-important, high-level 2-day conference where government representatives, thought leaders, experts, and brilliant young minds from all over the world came together to identify and discuss the many issues and prospects concerning the technical and vocational education and training, and skill strategies required to be adapted or improved in today’s rapidly changing world.

The conference discussion and exploration began with the realization of the adaptation strategies and planning required around the training and skills development of the youth in the face of the fourth industrial revolution and how it would impact the future outlook of a person’s skill profile in any particular industry. Key topics of discussion revolved around the need to globalize the skills and careers of the youth in a progressively digitized world as well as seek to minimize the gap between jobs and skills by eliminating the constraints of existing qualification structure in order to open up the future horizons for the youth today.

The delegates from around the world also discussed the roles played by, and challenges faced by the cities as well as resolving the issue of gender inequality across different industrial skills. The conference sought to address the demands of the future against the challenges of today and turning them into opportunities for the youth while counteracting the risks involved in the mismatch of training and skills offered by the education system today in view of the innovative technologies of tomorrow.

The conference also looked at the need to break down limitations of the national borders and empower the youth in a world that is not restricted by physical divides and needs a system of governance that is ingrained in the globalized fabric of a borderless domain. The key denominator of all the discussion was to bring the creative capabilities of the youth up to a level that matches the current needs and challenging demands of future against the implications of global economic trends and market forces.

It is worthwhile to mention here that in view of the above mentioned challenges Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan experienced the immersive Virtual Reality technology and appreciated the role it could play in nurturing and developing the advanced skillset of the young minds and fresh professionals.

Take home from Worldskills 2017…

As winners are bound to emerge from any competition, the 4-days’ worth rigorous efforts from all teams came down to Brazil, Korea and China scoring the first, second and third positions respectively. Chinese student, Biao Song was awarded the prestigious Albert Vidal Award – named in the memory of WSI’s founder – for achieving the overall highest score across all competitions. While the Best of Nation Award went to the contests gaining highest points or medal ranking among their own national or regional team which was decided by each individual member.

The Best of Nation Award for the UAE team, was received by not one but two Emiratis, Ibrahim Alraeesi and Hamad Alremeithi. Nonetheless, in the words of Mubarak al-Shamsi, all the contestants “deserve to be recognized and celebrated”.

No matter who are the winners, everyone gains from the Worldskills Competition as they get to learn, explore and embrace the ideas and opportunities provided by the event, during and after the competition. It infuses an inspiring spirit among the young people for accepting challenges and turning them into bigger things in life and always look forward to wider horizons.

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