Practical skills put to the test
ABU DHABI // More than 500 budding Emirati carpenters, florists, welders, electricians, landscape gardeners and other vocational pupils competed in the EmiratesSkills National Competition on Wednesday.
The annual event, organised by the Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, is meant to showcase the special skills acquired by Emirati students, aged 17-21, from across the country.
The competition is also a qualifying event for WorldSkills, dubbed the Olympics of vocational education, which is held every two years and will be hosted by Abu Dhabi next year.
Ali Al Marzouqi, director of EmiratesSkills, said the national competition was meant to encourage Emiratis to pursue an education in the trades by showcasing the many career options available to them.
“We need to motivate UAE nationals to know the importance of vocational and technical education and training, because we know the jobs of the future require more engineers, more people in technical fields,” Mr Al Marzouqi said.
The national competition featured 28 challenges, ranging from aircraft maintenance and fashion technology to welding and web design.
Competitors had to complete a timed project in their chosen field, ensuring their work followed real-world professional standards set for that trade. Five challenges for students with special education needs were also offered and a junior competition was provided for 12 to 15-year-olds.
The winners of the national competition get a chance to test their skill against the world’s top young tradespeople from 72 countries, who will travel to the capital next October for the WorldSkills event where more than 1,000 pupils are expected to compete in 50 categories.
David Hoey, chief executive of WorldSkills, said the international challenge was “the world’s biggest showcase” of excellence in technical schools.
“What we are doing around the world is showing people the alternative pathways to economic and personal success,” Mr Hoey said. “It’s not just about showcasing schools and who’s the best young carpenter or who’s the best young web designer, it’s about bringing crowds of people – young people, parents, policymakers, educators, ministers – and showcasing to them what are the careers of the future. We have to change the paradigm of thinking across many different areas.”
Winners of the WorldSkills challenge can take home a bronze, silver or gold medal. But those taking part in Emirates-Skills this week can win Dh20,000 for placing third, Dh30,000 for second and Dh40,000 for first.
Dr Ahmad Belhoul, Minister of State for Higher Education, said that unlike their predecessors, who focused more on pursuing academic degrees, the younger generation are more open to exploring new opportunities.
“I think part of the development of the youth is to make them self-reliant and to be able to build things with their own hands,” Dr Belhoul said.
“From what I’ve seen in the new generation, there is an openness right now to explore new opportunities. That’s what we’re trying to do here, by showing them if you do a job, which is not necessarily a management job, but you’re the best at what you do, you’re the best carpenter, you’re the best mechanic, that in itself has value. This is a platform to expose youngsters to these kinds of skill-sets.”
Updated: May 11, 2016 04:00 AM