15 March 2017
European Skills Plus competition
Competitors from six countries are about to prove that disabilities are not a barrier to professional success, as they take part in a European skills showcase with the emphasis on inclusivity.
The first European Skills Plus competition for young people with labour disabilities will get under way in the Netherlands on 16 March, with 13 teams competing in a series of activities to decide the best European Skills team for 2017.
The event is organized by WorldSkills Netherlands and the Pro Work Foundation, which promotes the career development of people with disabilities, and is supported by Erasmus+ - the European Union programme aimed at supporting education, training, youth and sport.
As part of the Dutch national event “Skills The Finals”, at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre, the competition will feature four disciplines designed to show that people with disabilities deserve to have their professional abilities challenged, and assessed, in the same way as everyone else.
As well as home representation through a Netherlands team, Competitors will be heading to Amsterdam from Bulgaria, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Germany, and will illustrate their abilities in the categories of Landscape Gardening, Hospitality, IT, and Technology.
Skills Plus competitions are specifically designed to provide equal opportunities for young people with disabilities. The test projects have been developed at the same level as the successful Skills Talents competition, the Dutch pre-vocational skills contests. Teams are made up of people with both physical and mental disabilities, whose talents and level of expertise – as well as the hurdles they seek to overcome – differ, adding an element of diversity as well as inclusivity.
Experts from vocational education and industry oversee the performance of individual teams in the heat of the competition, and assess the results. To ensure the Competitors are truly challenged and treated fairly, the projects they work on reflect the professional nature of their trade, with the objective of preparing them for real-world employment, and also enabling them to appreciate that their disability should not prevent them from pursuing their chosen career.
Ahead of the competition, Jos de Goey, Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Chair of the Strategy Committee (Netherlands) said, "The Skills Plus competitions underline the importance of an inclusive society. The competition not only increases the self-esteem of the Competitors, it also gives recognition to their achievements. The teamwork approach highlights inclusivity which is important to show that people with a disability are able to purposefully contribute to our society."
Ensuring people with significant disabilities, but the requisite abilities, are recognized as skilled workers is a key goal of the Pro Work Foundation. It focuses on opening opportunities in sectors such as ICT, the environment, the economy, healthcare, and technology, with issues including sustainability, social employment, social inclusion, entrepreneurship, and diversity management being high on its agenda. The foundation works in collaboration with similar organizations from participating countries, who were responsible for preparing their Skills Plus teams.
Alongside the European Skills Plus competition, WorldSkills Netherlands is organizing “Skills The Finals”, which runs from 16-18 March and sees 660 pre-vocational students compete in 46 areas, as they bid to be named the best skilled young professional or team. WorldSkills Netherlands also organizes competitions such as Skills Juniors – for Grade 7 and 8 students – Skills Talents, for pre-vocational students, and Skills Heroes, for vocational students, all through partnering with the education and business sector. It is also responsible for Team Netherlands participation in EuroSkills and WorldSkills, the European and global skills competitions for young professionals.