45th WorldSkills Competition in Kazan, Russia

We recently attended the 45th World Skills Competition in Kazan, Russia where the aim of the event is to:

  • attract public attention to the development of professional skills,
  • increase popularity of these skills,
  • improve professional standards for these skills
  • increase economic growth via provision of skilled people

Each event covers 3 main areas, i.e. competition, conference and exhibition or expo. Each showcased skill is explained and in many instances visitors can try a skill. Additionally, for this year, because of the focus on future skills, knowledge sharing about changes in technology driving the future skills programme and career guidance around new skills was  prevalent.

The competition this year covered 56 skill areas with more then 1300 competitors from 63 countries as well as 13 Junior and 25 transforming or emerging future skills. The event created a showcase of young people’s success. An example of how World Skills can influence lives was given by a competitor from a previous competition, who spoke about how she had heard a mother showing her daughter that if a woman could participate in World Skills the daughter should consider the opportunities available to her.

South Africa participated in 20 skills ranging from water technology to welding, coming 41st  and receiving medals of excellence in Car Painting and Welding. South Africa also provided experts in several future skills and participated in unmanned autonomous vehicles operation, ie drone operations, receiving a bronze medal.

Skills for impact: Skills change lives

The theme of the 2019 conference was Skills for impact: Skills change lives. Under this theme  the conference placed a spotlight on how skills can inspire young people and build self-esteem.

The session  The Final Frontier: Lessons from the  stars with astronauts Scott Kelly and Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev provided inspiration and valuable lessons around the need for lifelong learning, and the importance of both technical and people (soft) skills.


World Skills also host a social entrepreneurship accelerator programme  that provides support and coaching to particpants. This event is another way that young people are inspired by the World Skills Movement. The winners in 2019, Agrivengers, a team with engineering skills, use nanotechnology to build a system that satisfies the unmet needs of food security, public health and environmental protection

The key items that we will take away from the event are:

We need to train in expected future professions to  help alleviate existing skills mismatches and increase the potential of our human capital

Speed is the biggest challenge as the rate of change is greater than our rate of response

Partnerships between Educators, Government and Industry are key for a country to succeed in the global markets we operate in.

Sherrie Donaldson, Executive African Innovators
Secretariat Brics Business Council Skills Development Working Group

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