Young apprentices work with gold, sugar, wood, or metal. But most precious are their knowledge and skills, as demonstrated at the WorldSkills 2022 competition, part of which has been held in Switzerland.This content was published on November 27, 2022 - 19:46
The WorldSkills competition, which officially closed in the Austrian city of Salzburg this Sunday, can be compared to an ‘Olympics’ for trade skills. During September-November the contest was held in 15 countries around the world, after the original event in China was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions. Switzerland hosted 13 of the 62 competitions, more than any other country.
On Sunday evening, it was announced that the Swiss had notched up 19 medals at WorldSkills, including five golds.
In many countries, learning the trades is not considered as prestigious as a university education. The international non-profit association WorldSkills was founded in 1946 to help raise profile of trades among young people. Its main task is organising competitions of professional skills.
These competitions, in which more than 70 professions are represented, are held every two years. And they are taken very seriously, with some participants taking two years to prepare for the competition.
In Switzerland, young Swiss make their first career choice, apprenticeships, or university track, at age 14-15. Around two-thirds opt for vocational training.
The Swiss dual-track apprenticeship system, in which young people combine on-the-job training with lessons in a vocational school, has a good reputation, also internationally. This is why Swiss teenagers always bring back several dozen (!) medals from these competitions.
However, this year’s competition is without the participation of Russia, which held the last pre-pandemic WorldSkills in Kazan in 2019. It has withdrawn from this year’s content and its membership in WorldSkills is "temporarily suspended".
"Which of the professions represented in the competition has the most promising future?" SWI swissinfo.ch asked Roland Hirsbrunner, head of marketing and communication at SwissSkills.
"All of the professions represented will be in demand for the foreseeable future,” Hirsbrunner said. “Construction will always be important. Cars will become more sophisticated, but you will still have to fix them. And people of the future will not give up the pleasure of going to restaurants.”
"Another thing is that the professions and skills themselves are likely to transform and evolve," he added. “Our whole society is becoming more digital. And if our young competitors in such categories as graphic design or print media technologies are already very digitalised, other professions will transform too. Jewellery art will remain in demand, but jewellers will use a computer to create their models."
(Filming: SwissSkills 2022, video editing: Lioudmila Clot). The story was updated on Sunday evening to add in the final results of the Swiss team.