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12 March 2018

International leg of WorldSkills Flag Relay starts in Madrid

The international leg of the WorldSkills Flag Relay has got underway in Madrid, Spain, where international skills competitions began in 1950. The ceremony included the formal arrival of the WorldSkills Flag, and a parade of the flags of all 44 previous WorldSkills Competitions.  Former competitors, as well as young volunteers who study at the Institute Virgen de la Paloma where the first international skills competition was held, were at the heart of the event.

There was also a presentation of the next global skills competition, WorldSkills Kazan 2019, which will be held in Russia in August next year. The WorldSkills Competition brings together the very best young talent in vocational skills and trades, to compete to be world champions in more than 50 different skills.


Present at the ceremony were Marcial Marín Hellín, Secretary of State for Education, from the Spanish government, Rafael van Grieken, Regional Minister of Education and Research, the President of WorldSkills International, Simon Bartley, the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sport of the Republic of Tatarstan, Vladimir Leonov, and the Director General of WorldSkills Russia, Robert Urazov . Also present was Paloma, one of the daughters of Francisco Albert Vidal – the founder of the WorldSkills global movement.

“In 1950 a unique and special global movement started here at the Institute Virgen de la Paloma in Madrid”, said Simon Bartley, the President of WorldSkills. “From small roots it has grown into WorldSkills, the premier global skills Competition and organization. Millions of young people have been touched by our competitions over the past 68 years, and it is absolutely appropriate that we are returning now to the site of the first Competition to start the journey of the WorldSkills Flag around the world.”

The Flag Relay started last year when the WorldSkills Flag was handed to Kazan, the next WorldSkills host city, on 20 October during the Closing Ceremony of WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017. The flag arrived in Sochi, Russia the next day. It was then launched into space and kept on board the International Space Station for more than two months, before returning at the end of February. After this ceremony in Madrid the relay will travel around the world, as it continues its journey across the 20 countries that have hosted the WorldSkills Competition previously.


The flag will be welcomed in Germany, Ireland, the USA, Belgium, South Korea, the UAE, Chinese Taipei, Finland, Australia, Canada, Portugal, Switzerland, Brazil, Austria, Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, France, and Japan.

The flag will then travel across Russia, and the Republic of Tatarstan before being delivered to Kazan during the Opening Ceremony of WorldSkills Kazan 2019.