The local leg of the World Skills competition, which showcases the talents of students between the ages of 16 and 21 in technical and vocational subjects, has become more stringent, and as a result, participants this year will have to aspire to a higher standard if they want to go all the way to next year’s international finals in Russia.
Speaking at the media launch of the event this morning, Chair of the World Skills Local Organizing Committee Dario Walcott said: “Previously, we had four skills showcased, namely hairdressing, automobile technology, cooking and fashion technology, but this time around we have added four more, specifically, beauty therapy, restaurant service, graphic design technology and car painting.
“We also have more institutions on board now, including the Career Development Institute, Nikita’s School of Cosmetology and the Barbados Community College.”
Walcott said after the Barbados team participated in the last World Skills competition in Abu Dhabi last year, they realized that the team needed to develop their “soft skills”, that is, the way they interacted with other people. So, with this in mind, “this year we are implementing a developmental programme for our participants, where they will learn business etiquette, how to behave in networking situations, the keys to effective communication, interviewing skills; in short, the skills they will need to be competent in their jobs.”
The Barbados Employers Confederation will be hosting a three-month course covering this area from February to May, and all would-be participants are expected to complete it, since it will contribute to 40 per cent of the student’s overall marks.
The four highest placed students will qualify for the finals, with the fifth in reserve, and in order to make it to the international contest, they must score at least 80 per cent on the developmental programme, and 75 per cent on the technical element.
Executive Director of the TVET Council Henderson Eastmond pointed out that “The World Skills Competition has medallions of excellence, which are given to countries that are among the top competitors, and then there are gold, silver and bronze medallions for the top three.
“We want to show that we are strong enough to meet the medallion of excellence standard,” he said.
Walcott called on the private sector to get more involved in the activities surrounding the competition by exposing students to the technologies they use in their businesses, so that they will be more au fait with them when they see them on the world stage.
And ultimately, as the TVET Council does its part to promote their field of study in Barbados, “we want to put on a competition in the secondary schools, which will act as a ‘feeder’ for the World Skills contest, and we hope to meet with the Ministry of Education, as well as the private sector, in July for further discussion on this.”
The local World Skills finals will take place at this year’s BMEX at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in May.