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Young skilled talents get eyeballs and awards

Glittering award ceremony marks the end of WorldSkills 2017 in Abu Dhabi

  • Sundus Al Hosani from UAE working on jewellery contest at the World Skills Abu Dhabi 2017 at the Abu Dhabi Image Credit:
  • working on jewellery contest at the World Skills Abu Dhabi 2017 at the Abu Dhabi exhibition centre (ADNEC) Image Credit:
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The world’s largest vocational skills competition till date, WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017, officially came to a close in the capital on Thursday after four days of rigorous competition among 1,300 participants.

Top performers in each of the 51 skills categories — which ranged from refrigeration and air-conditioning to beauty therapy — as well as from each country were feted at a colourful closing ceremony that handed out more than 250 medals.

The Albert Vidal award, the highest honour presented at each WorldSkills competition to the top performer across all categories, was earned by a competitor from China.

The top performers from the 34-member UAE team at WorldSkills 2017 were Ibrahim Al Raeesi and Hamad Al Rumaithi.

The prestigious international competition, known often as the Olympics for vocational skills, was organised by the Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (Actvet), which itself aims to increase the number of Emiratis in rewarding technical careers.

Mubarak Al Shamsi, director-general of Actvet, said the aim was to spur interest in vocational skills, as technical careers and related entrepreneurial ventures can help counter youth unemployment.

The Albert Vidal award, the highest honour presented at each WorldSkills competition to the top performer across all categories, was earned by a competitor from China.

The top performers from the 34-member UAE team at WorldSkills 2017 were Ibrahim Al Raeesi and Hamad Al Rumaithi.

About 15 per cent of students in the UAE go on to pursue technical careers at present. Hussain Ebrahim Al Hammadi, UAE Minister of Education, announced during WorldSkills that the aim is to increase this proportion to 40 per cent.

This year, there were 34 Emirati competitors in 31 skill categories. It was the largest number of participants from the UAE since the country joined WorldSkills in 2007, and a number of these Emirati competitors held visitors spellbound. For instance, many were surprised to pass by 22-year-old Eisa Al Marzouqi as he skilfully crafted elegant bouquets as part of the floristry contest. A little further down, Roudha Bin Bakr’s deft handling of heavy equipment, as part of the refrigeration and air-conditioning competition, also stirred much interest.

Competitors in the hairdressing and beauty therapy categories drew numerous onlookers during the event at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, the competition venue.

A total of 110,000 visitors stopped by the 105,000-square-metre event, including 80,000 students from schools across the UAE.

This 44th edition of WorldSkills, the biennial event launched in 1950, was the first to be organised in the Middle East and North Africa region. It also included the first Youth Forum, which engaged 300 professionals between the ages of 17 and 32 years. They met to draw up the first WorldSkills youth declaration, an 18-article document that called for education reform, sustainability and the promotion of technical and vocational skills.

Following the forum, a two-day conference also saw 30 ministers and industry leaders discussing the changing face of education and employment in today’s world. The youth declaration was also presented at the conference so that work on achieving its goals could be kick-started across the world.

“The UAE presented a unique vision of the future and the role of the youth in developing future industries,” said Simon Bartley, president of WorldSkills International.

The next edition of the WorldSkills competition will be organised in the Russian city of Kazan in 2019. It will be the first time that Russia organises the competition.

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