Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 10 December 2019

Abu Dhabi’s Skills Olympics will showcase our brightest and best

Crispin Thorold looks at the WorkSkills movement as Abu Dhabi prepares to host the “Skills Olympics”
The WorldSkills closing ceremony in 2015.
The WorldSkills closing ceremony in 2015.

Abu Dhabi has officially started the countdown to the arrival of a world championships with a difference. In 2017, the emirate will host WorldSkills, the global competition of vocational skills. Competitors from more than 70 countries will compete in some 50 skill areas – from floristry to bricklaying; from aircraft maintenance to baking, to name just a few.

WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 will be the first to be held in the Middle East. The official delegate of the UAE to WorldSkills, Mubarak Saeed Al Shamsi, has promised that it will be an “unforgettable event”.

As with all great global competitive events WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 will have opening and closing ceremonies, full of glitz and razzmatazz. There will be nail-biting contests where the very best youngsters in their fields will compete to take the title of world’s best. Look out for the tears of joy and disappointment that accompany all elite competitions.

This will also be a vital moment for skills development and vocational education in the UAE, the Middle East and further afield. The UAE continues to invest heavily in training and education as part of a strong commitment to youth development, which is a fundamental aspect of UAE Vision 2021. The objective is to create a more skilled workforce that will help develop further the manufacturing and scientific sectors. 

During the WorldSkills competition, Emirati schoolchildren and youth will be able to learn more about the 50 different professions from dedicated careers advisers. The competition will also be used to help the national organisation, EmiratesSkills, benchmark achievement in vocational education and training.

Over the past couple of weeks a team from the UAE has been in South America’s largest city, São Paulo, to observe the 2015 competition. At the conclusion of WorldSkills São Paulo more than 7,000 competitors, supporters and delegates witnessed the handing over of the WorldSkills flag from the Brazilian hosts to an Emirati delegation.

The flag was received on behalf of the UAE by Mr Al Shamsi, the director general of the Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training; Ali Al Marzouqi, the president of EmiratesSkills; and two Emirati competitors, Abdulla Al Hamad and Laila Al Mahri.

This was the culmination of four days of competition in a huge exhibition hall. The UAE team in São Paulo comprised 27 competitors and two team leaders representing all the emirates – the largest team that this country has ever sent to a WorldSkills competition. 

“Representing the UAE was a great feeling,” said Khlood Al Shkeili, 21, from Abu Dhabi, who competed in the IT network systems administration category. “I learnt many many things. I still have one year left in university and now I don’t feel like I need it any more.”

WorldSkills competitions are first and foremost about celebrating excellence, but they also raise the visibility of professional education and promote its importance as a fundamental tool of socio-economic transformation. They also offer a unique opportunity for skills professionals to interact with their counterparts from around the world.

“People here work on the same matter with a different approach,” said Mudhaffar Helal Al Shamsi, 25, from Al Ain, who competed in the aircraft maintenance category. “I may have worked on an engine one way and they came to show me another way. So we learn from each other and I see international skills.”

Planning for the 2017 event has started already and a dedicated team is being put together to deliver it.

“Abu Dhabi is a world-class destination and we intend to put on a world-class competition,” said Aidan Jones, the chief executive of WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017. “I have been struck since I moved to Abu Dhabi by the dynamism of the economy and the incredible facilities that the emirate has to offer. We will deliver not just a first-rate series of competitions, but also a series of fun and interesting events alongside.”

 For the UAE team in São Paulo, the Abu Dhabi edition of WorldSkills will also be an opportunity to showcase their homeland to the world. 

 “As an Emirati, I am excited that people from all around the world will come to see our country,” said Mudhaffar Helal Al Shamsi. “We are preparing a very exciting WorldSkills so that everyone can come together and see what the UAE is.”


Crispin Thorold is the head of communications and public relations for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi

Updated: August 22, 2015 04:00 AM



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