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Mubarak Al Shamsi, the Director General of ACTVET and Simon Bartley, the President of WorldSkills International (centre)along with the students and officals are seen during the launch of One School One Country, a unique cultural exchange that pairs students from 59 Abu Dhabi schools and the 59 international teams taking part in WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017. photo Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: Nearly 1,300 youth from around the world will pit their vocational skills against one another in an international competition that will be held in the capital this October.

The World Skills 2017 contest will test the competitors’ expertise in 51 different abilities, including bricklaying, carpentry, beauty therapy, bakery, software solutions and aircraft maintenance, said Simon Bartley, president at competition organiser, World Skills.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony that saw Abu Dhabi schools partner with 59 participating countries and their contestants in a bid to allow for cultural exchange and knowledge sharing in the run up to the October competition.

“The UAE’s wise leadership has already noted a passion for entrepreneurship among its youth, and we know that the best entrepreneurs come from a technical, skills-based background. This aim to promote vocational skills among the youth is part of the reason why Abu Dhabi offered to host this 44th edition of the competition,” Bartley said.

“Today’s partnering programme, entitled ‘One School One Country’, will now allow international participants to acclimatise themselves with the UAE, and will also allow for the sharing of cultural values and expertise,” he added.

According to educational experts, there is still a worldwide focus on university education and degrees over skills-based careers.

“Even today, very few people understand the importance of crafts and technical skills and their role in combating unemployment,” Bartley said.

In recent years however, the UAE has encouraged its youth to develop vocational skills that will allow them to become entrepreneurs. A number of technical professions have begun gaining popularity as a result, including nursing, aircraft maintenance, mobile robotics and internet security.

In addition, Abu Dhabi’s vocation training regulator, the Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education, has also organised the Emiratis Skills National Competition since 2008 to test technical expertise among youth in the country. Finalists from the 2016 and 2017 editions of this national contest who are aged between 14 and 23 years will, in fact, be selected to participate in World Skills 2017.

About 100,000 visitors are expected to attend the four-day event in October this year.