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WorldSkills Champions inspire at APAC Forum

WorldSkills Champions inspire at APAC Forum

14 November 2021 Updated 24 Mar 2021

Inspiring WorldSkills Champions bring wow-factor to APAC TVET Forum

Four World Skills Champions are the stars of the 2021 APAC Technical and Vocational Education and Training Research Forum. Representing young skilled workers across Asia Pacific, the truly inspirational panel extolled common themes of job satisfaction, unlimited career progression and a life following their passion.

Anna Prokopenya, a Russian pastry chef now working in France, chaired the hour-long session with three past WorldSkills competitors. During the online session the WorldSkills Champions shared advice and experience around vocational pathways, youth voice and careers for the future with viewers across the Asia Pacific region.

Pearl So, a diverse designer from Hong Kong says the world is entering a new era where young people must be part of the discussion around what the future looks like.

“We need to understand their needs without assumption or expectation. They are the ones working for our future.”

Lee Hee Dong, a gold medal-winning CNC milling and machining engineer from South Korea, encourages teachers and parents to help young people to experience as much as possible in various skills.

“Let them fix furniture, fix the house, let them cook, let them learn computer coding, or take them to various local Skills competitions and industry events. Let them find their own interest and expand it to their Skill and career, that would be the best career choice.”

Nick Johnston competed in WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017. Now the cabinet maker from Australia is also teaching the next generation of apprentices at TAFE. At school Nick remembers being pushed towards University. He chose to do something more hands on.

“After school, I got an apprenticeship, started cabinet making and haven’t looked back from there. I don’t think I would change anything.”

He says there are plenty of opportunities for people to grow careers and grow themselves through a skill and that having the support of parents and teachers is crucial.

All four WorldSkills ambassadors spoke about how important it is to have a career that they love and which gives them satisfaction. Moreover, their choice of a professional vocational education has not limited their career progression. University was still an option for those who wanted it.

Lee says that many people worry about young people embarking on vocational training before university . “There are pros and cons. If you get a job first, you have the advantage of finding out what you lack and what you need to learn in that field. After that you can learn more.”

Skilled workers can still go on to University. Although it is not easy to work and study at the same time, he says “Increasing your value and learning what is required for your industry will be incomparably beneficial to you compared to simply studying for a high grade and diploma.”

Anna agrees. “Starting on a skills path means you can develop yourself much more broadly, and the path is much more flexible which is what I think is needed for young people right now.”