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14 October 2017

Champions return to WorldSkills Competition to share experiences and help to shape the future of skills

They know what it takes and what it means to be WorldSkills winners – and now they’re preparing to pass on their experience to those hoping to follow in their footsteps.

Members of the WorldSkills Champions Trust (WSCT) – a collective of young professionals who have shone in a range of categories at previous editions of the world championship of vocational skills – are heading to WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 to lend their expertise, in the Competition itself and in both the WorldSkills Conference 2017 and the International TVET Youth Forum that take place on its sidelines.

They will be active throughout the Competition, in their roles as advocates for the WorldSkills movement and as promoters of the benefits of active involvement and engagement with WorldSkills and WorldSkills Foundation projects, initiatives, and activities.

The WSCT is a group of nine young people who work together to help bridge the gap between WorldSkills winner and the WorldSkills movement beyond the Competition. The initiative was developed by Champions for Champions at the WorldSkills Champions Forum 2014 in Lucerne, Switzerland, when the idea was formed to establish an advisory group to work closely throughout the year with WorldSkills.

World Skills Champion Chirag Goel, of India, who participated in the Web Design Skill in WorldSkills São Paulo 2015, said being at the 44th WorldSkills competition "feels like coming back home”.

"From being a Competitor at the last Competition, to now being part of the WorldSkills Champions Trust, being a part of the TVET Youth Forum, the conference program - and so much more - makes me feel honoured,” he said. "As Competitors, we go into the competition as boys and girls - but walk out as men and women."

"Skills have helped me develop an identity. Now, people recognise me as someone who not only has a skill, but has competed at the highest level representing their skill and industry. Every single WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 Competitor will be called a Champion after the Competition, and I wish them all the best of luck.”

Gary Condon, of Ireland, who participated in the Plastering and Drywall Systems Skill in WorldSkills London 2011, said: "Skills have completed changed my life for the better."

"They have molded me into the person I am today. Since competing in WorldSkills London I’ve matured and progressed into a senior position, and I would not be there without competing in WorldSkills, as I may have never been recognised.”

Being in Abu Dhabi as the UAE capital prepares to host the 44th biennial WorldSkills Competition - the first time it will be held in the Middle East and North Africa region - feels “amazing”, according to Gary. 

"I’ve been involved with the set-up of the Skill I competed in six years ago, as the company I work for, Saint-Gobain, is the Skill sponsor,” he explained. “It is amazing to think back to six years ago, and the feelings of nervousness and fear I had then, compared to the excitement I feel now.”

World Skills Champion Anna Prokopenia, of Russia, who participated in the Pâtisserie and Confectionery Skill in São Paulo 2015, is also excited to return to the biggest vocational skills competition in the world, and see the event from a different perspective than as a Competitor.

"The WorldSkills Competition is a festival of professionals,” she said. "It’s a great pleasure - to be a spectator here, and still be a part of a WorldSkills family."

"When I was a Competitor, I felt excitement about my actions on the workshop, but now I feel excitement for all Competitors, Experts, Organizers. It’s much more complicated, but also less nerve-wracking, and I feel really grateful for the opportunity to enjoy the Competition again.”

Anna said the main goal of the Champions at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 is to inspire its Competitors to join “the world’s greatest community of professionals”, and represent the voice of youth at the WorldSkills Conference 2017.

“Another great thing happening at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 is the Youth Forum - a meeting place for young people all over the world after two months of discussion about opportunities of a future with Skills,” she said.

"We are here to finalize our vision for the future of vocational skills and produce propositions and solutions for problems related to the economy, ecology, entrepreneurship and education. It’s hard to describe how many amazing things we have here in a few days!"

Her own experience as a Competitor at the last edition of the WorldSkills Competition means Anna recognizes how Skills represent much more than just a job. "I’m a confectioner, and creating something is a part of my daily life,” she explained.

"It’s extremely interesting for me to make desserts and sweets for people and see how my skills could make their lives better – even in a small way. The WorldSkills Competition allowed me to realize my aims as a professional, not just a student."

"It also made me feel a part of a generation of creators. In just a few days, I saw many young people whose ambitions were the same as mine: - to make a world a better place to live with their skills.”

WorldSkills Champion Jenica Branscombe, of Canada, who participated in the Beauty Therapy Skill in WorldSkills London 2011, said being a Competitor in the biggest global showcase of vocational skills gave her opportunities she never dreamed of - and described being in Abu Dhabi as a WSCT member as “overwhelming”. 

"I am just excited to relive one of the best and most memorable times of my life,” she said. "I will be participating in the Youth Forum and Conference program, in addition to taking part in tours and engaging with Champions. But most of all, I’ll be having fun!"

The other current members of the WSCT are,  Barthélémy Deutsch, of Belgium, who completed the Restaurant Service Skill in WorldSkills Leipzig 2013; Rachel Chloe Chua, of Singapore, who participated in the Caring Skill in WorldSkills London 2011; Ricardo Vivian, of Brazil, who participated in the Graphic Design Technology Skill in WorldSkills Leipzig 2013; Tayla Schou, of South Africa, who competed in the Cooking Skill in WorldSkills São Paulo 2015; and Victor Simon, of France, who participated in the Manufacturing Team Challenge Skill at WorldSkills Leipzig 2013.