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Honouring the past and launching the future

An abridged version of my speech at the commencement of our 60th Anniversary General Assembly meeting in Kingston.

Dear Colleagues, dear friends

Tribute to our founder

In 1946  Francisco Albert Vidal began a voyage of discovery entrusted to him by the head of Spain’s National Youth Organization, with the mission to;

Fill youth with enthusiasm through special action! Convince young people’s parents, trainers and company chiefs that a promising future is possible only through good vocational education.

And so the first international vocational training competition took place in Madrid in 1950 between Spain and Portugal attended by observers from around Europe. The “Youth Skill Olympics” was born, and became Albert Vidal’s life’s work. First, as Secretary General for 33 years, and a further 7 years as President. He shaped our organization into the remarkable world-wide movement that it is today, and passionately espoused its values which we proudly continue to uphold. Values such as;

  • supporting all our Members to compete on a level playing field.
  • enabling all our young competitors to do their best without regard to their gender, nationality, or religion.
  • embracing  excellence, innovation and creativity, and a respect for the diversity of languages and cultures.

Our WorldSkills values define the spirit of WorldSkills. A spirit, that I believe, is stronger than ever in our rapidly growing WorldSkills family.

We all have a story

Of course each one of us has a compelling story to tell of the growth and success of your own country’s skills efforts. How at each of our Competitions standards are raised, new benchmarks are set and the competitiveness becomes more intense. And how the young people and their teachers bring home with them experience and motivation to help raise skill levels higher.

I’m very proud that WorldSkills now provides a representative voice for our young skill champions through the Youth Forum. The third Forum is underway here in Jamaica. I know we will be very stimulated and challenged  by their ideas and recommendations later in the week. (And indeed we were!) We also know from our young champions that skills development and personal growth through the competition experience helps them to realise their dreams.

Let me show a short film of one such dream of our  WorldSkills Global Ambassador – Marcos Pontes Brazil’s first astronaut – who was planning to be with us in person here in Jamaica but was unable to make it at the last moment.

Our brand strategy

To strengthen the global image of WorldSkills and unify our Members’ individual efforts, we agreed in Helsinki in 2005 to present ourselves under the new WorldSkills brand which we first launched in the year 2000. I am delighted to report that each of the four regional skill competitions  -EuroSkills, Gulf Skills, ASEAN Skills and WorldSkills Americas – have seen the value of now adopting our WorldSkills brand as part of their own development. I would like to stress that having a brand strategy is not an exercise in ego, but a powerful marketing tool to gain recognition for and engagement with WorldSkills in a crowded marketplace of competing ideas and causes. I’ve been particularly impressed by the way Jamaica has so effectively adopted the WorldSkills branding since they joined our organisation in 2004.

Our growing membership

I believe we can expect that WorldSkills will have at least 70 Members by 2020. We have achieved a threefold increase in our membership over the past 30 years, and a third of our Members have joined WorldSkills in the last decade alone. This is testimony to the growing realization that a highly skilled workforce underpins the strength of any nation.  And we can all be proud that WorldSkills is playing a growingly important part in that realization. Our 60 years of hard work, development and success is a great legacy to have as we face the future.

Key opportunities and challenges

We have warmly welcomed China as a Member of WorldSkills. This is a big step on the path to us becoming a global organization with all the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. So what are some of these opportunities and challenges? Here are some examples from our “2020 Vision”.

  • Making the Competition more sustainable
  • Sharing our skills knowledge and expertise more widely and effectively
  • Improving our partnerships with WorldSkills stakeholders (such as Host Members, our Global Industry Partners and the four Regional Competitions)
  • Ensuring there is a mutual understanding and a close collaboration between WorldSkills International and the proposed WorldSkills Foundation for the benefit of all Members and stakeholders
  • Developing the WorldSkills brand to attract more members, sponsors and partners.

Global Industry Partners

Before the year 2000, WorldSkills relied on membership fees alone.  In 2010 more than 20% of our annual budget comes from the financial contributions of our 8 – now to be 10 – global industry partners. Their financial and in kind contributions have enabled us to strengthen our organization which, in turn, has enabled us to greatly improve the Competition and give more added value to our Members, our various stakeholders and our target audiences. It is a measure of WorldSkills stature that global companies of the calibre of our Global Industry Partners are choosing to align with our vision and mission. Collectively, they see WorldSkills as a powerful means to value skills as a new global currency. A currency of best practices and standards that can be leveraged in all industry sectors around the world. High quality skill formation is only possible through close cooperation and action between Education and Industry, and this cooperation, I believe, is at the very heart of WorldSkills success.

Our Improved Capability

It was only in 2005 that we gained the services of a full time CEO since after Albert Vidal retired as Secretary General.  David Hoey’s appointment has been vital to the effective management of our organization. He, and his expert team, and their use of the latest information technologies in all aspects of our operations, gave us the extra capability to surpass the targets set in our first 10 year plan. Our secretariat now has the “know how” to enable future Competition events to be more cost effective and to provide high quality services to our Members and stakeholders,  through partnership with the host of our Competition.

I think we can all be proud of what we have achieved together over the past decade, and I thank each delegate and honorary Member, past and present, for your commitment and support.

Our new ten year plan

Now we have a new 10 year plan to discuss and agree on in Kingston.  The Strategy Committee has been involved during the meetings in Vienna and in Calgary. And like a decade ago, a Board Working Group, hand in hand with David Hoey, has been the inspiration behind our 2020 Vision, and I want to recognize them all for their contributions. When the Board Working Group determined that the creation of the WorldSkills Foundation was the best means to develop an advocacy and education arm of WorldSkills, they also saw it as the best way to maintain our primary focus on the development of the Competition.

Let me explain that the English term “advocacy” simply means, “actively supporting an idea or a cause”.  Our cause is to promote skills across the world. It’s our brand purpose.

As a separate legal entity, the WorldSkills Foundation will be able to enter into partnerships with international companies, educational institutions and other bodies interested in supporting our advocacy and education goals beyond the Competition. We will ensure alignment between WorldSkills International and the WorldSkills Foundation through our shared vision and mission and integrated governance, while enabling the Foundation to have the flexibility to innovate and explore opportunities outside the Competition. The Foundation’s partnership projects will target a range of issues of interest and concern to all Members.

For example, vocational education and training is poorly developed on the African continent with few countries participating in WorldSkills. One of our provisional foundation partners is keen to find ways to help improve this, as of course are all Members and stakeholders of WorldSkills.

The Foundation concept has been explored with a number of interested partners, and we have received provisional commitments from different parts of the world for the necessary start up funding for 3 years. Importantly, both industry and education will be represented among the founding partners.

The Foundation will not draw from the budget of WorldSkills International. On the contrary, the Foundation will allow us to draw on resources that would not otherwise come to the Competition. This will help to enhance our non-competition activities. And as WorldSkills International ultimately owns the Foundation we can ensure it stays aligned to our vision and mission.  A grant of $50,000 from the Legacy Fund of WorldSkills Calgary 2009 will allow us to constitute the Foundation.

Summary of our 2020 vision

To summarise, our 2020 Vision has three key objectives:

  1. To build up WorldSkills International as a strong global organisation able to improve the quality and sustainability of all aspects of the Competition
  2. To reduce costs, improve efficiencies and increase the benefits of participation for all our stakeholders
  3. To launch, through the WorldSkills Foundation, a program of advocacy and education to help us achieve our vision and mission.

In closing, I’m very pleased to reaffirm that Spain, the founder of WorldSkills, has made the offer to host the WorldSkills Foundation in Madrid, contribute to the legal establishment costs and provide the services of a Secretary to the Foundation. With this offer, Spain is helping to provide a second platform of exploration and discovery that will complement the one it launched 60 years ago.

As Members of our global skills family we provide the means to bring out the very best for the individual, for enterprise and society. Working together, under the WorldSkills flag, with a shared vision of a more sustainable world where people can achieve the workplace skills they need to prosper and find fulfillment.

Dear Colleagues, I ask you to support the Board’s 2020 Vision, and over the next few days share your ideas about how that vision can be best achieved and implemented.

Tjerk Dusseldorp

NOTE:  The GA unanimously endorsed the 2020 Vision and the formation of the WorldSkills Foundation.

Please contribute your ideas for Foundation projects below.

6 Comments to “Honouring the past and launching the future”

Alia 20 October 2010 at 1:09 am #

The WorldSkills Foundation will be the avenue through which many persons will gain access to the awesome privilege of being involved in skills – even beyond the competition.
I see WorldSkills spreading like a wildfire across the nations of this world igniting potential and purpose in the lives of young people. It is up to us to allow this vision to become a part of our lives. Our energy is needed to sustain it. The organization should utilize those who have gained from and appreciate the experience.
Past champions, are living testimonies, it should be our passion to contribute to WorldSkills International and the WorldSkills Foundation. A rich legacy has been created and there is a lot to be done.
It feels good to be involved in an organization filled with purpose and power. I am truly inspired by this presentation.

Richard Sauerman 20 October 2010 at 2:46 am #

I love what WorldSkills stands for and does, especially when it comes to filling youth with enthusiasm.

Every one needs to walk tall and hold their head up high as a participating and contributing person on the planet. WorldSkills makes that possible for many, and so hats off to you guys.

Richard :)

Terry Cooke 20 October 2010 at 3:11 am #

The 2020 Vision will see us successfully through the next decade. Undoubtedly it will go through some hicups as it begins it’s formative year, however, the concept is sound and we at WSI need an alternate vehicle to carry education advocay around the world. Helping the world’s youth aquire skills to follow their passion and achieve their full potential is much more than the competition. That is why the Calgary organizers we proud to provide a start up legacy to help WSI grow the Skills Movement.

Andy Arthur 20 October 2010 at 5:37 am #

I had the pleasure to be part of the youth forum whilst in Jamaica. It was another fantastic chance for us to develop our skills and make new friends. It was great to work with a group so involved with WorldSkills even after they had competed internationally.

I think it is important to realize is there is more to WorldSkills then competitions!

The foundation is a great initiative! It will be a fantastic opportunity for WorldSkills to build and provide to the community. Past competitors would love to be involved. Participating would be a real eye opener. We would definitely see things that we take for granted, and at the same time once again build our skills and learn new things.

The foundation could be used to provide relief to those who suffer from the lack of life’s necessities or work with people who do this already. WorldSkills have the people and skills to provide clean water, electricity or shelter. Some communities don’t have these luxuries and we have the power to provide them. WorldSkills can not only provide these, but pass on the knowledge so the communities can provide, maintain and improve these facilities for themselves.

Being able to help and improve the lives of other people would be a very inspirational experience. Fantastic direction for WorldSkills!

Tommy Hellstrom 20 October 2010 at 11:02 am #

To be a part of the Worldskills family is a fantastic opportunity. I’m now a new proud Honorary Member of WSI.

Jack, Great speech you gave. It gives the vision and mission some more, and interesting, content. The strategy with the core business around competitions based on involvment of members and an additional body, the Foundation , with many other commited partners is a great path for the future.

Laurent Thibault 22 October 2010 at 9:53 pm #

Tjerk, your address to members provides a valuable perspective and context for where WorldSkills has been and the exciting future it could have. I was delighted that the Vision2020 document, includng the proposal for the Foundation, was supported unanimously by the General Assembly. In the discussion groups from the General Assenbly and the Strategy Committee that I chaired, ideas were already bubbling up about projects that the Fundation might support. For example, it was suggested that a team of experts might be supported who would work with new WorldSkills members to help them launch national skills competitions in their countries if they don’t have them already.
There is also the idea that the WorldSkills Foundation could produce an index showing how good various countries are in skills development for their young people. This would be like the competitiveness index produced by the World Economic Forum which analyzes a wide range of indicators and ranks countries in terms of how competitive they are.
Now WorlSkills has a vehicle to pursue these ideas which could have a powerful effect on building greater understanding of the importance of skills. I would invite everyone to present their ideas about projects the Foundation should consider to promote “skills across the world”