A key strategy in WorldSkills’ 2020 Vision was realised with the launch of the WorldSkills Foundation in Madrid, Spain on 4 April 2011. The Foundation’s purpose is to complement the WorldSkills Competition with a program of research, advocacy and education activities. In this way, the Foundation aims to achieve its shared mission with WorldSkills International to promote skills across the world.
WSI Communications and Marketing Director, Michelle Bussey caught up with Jack Dusseldorp, WSI President, and inaugural Chairman of the Foundation, to ask some questions;
Michelle: Hi Jack. How does the Foundation’s vision and mission differ from that of WorldSkills International?
Jack: Hi Michelle. Well that’s an easy one to answer, as both bodies share exactly the same vision and mission. The difference is in how each sets about achieving their common objectives.
Can you expand on that please.
Well, WSI is a member organisation – now 54 countries/regions strong – and it’s key strategy is organizing the WorldSkills International Competition, hosted by a different Members every two years. The Foundation (WSF) while also being a legal entity, is really better understood as a diversity of ideas, projects and activities, supported by its Global Partners, outside the scope of the Competition.
What is an example of such an idea or project?
At the first Foundation meeting in Madrid, we agreed to support our Finnish Member’s initiative to conduct research with its past international Competitors to better understand what goes on in achieving a high performance result at a WorldSkills Competition. This research will now be expanded to cover all Member teams in London to create a creditable research base for our membership to both promote the benefits of participating in a WorldSkills Competition, as well as giving them insights as to how to raise performance standards in vocational education and training.
Oh, that. That’s the MoVE, or Modelling Vocational Excellence, project led by Dr Petri Nokelainen. Isn’t that really a WSI initiative rather than an Foundation project?
Exactly. It’s a project initiated by one of our Members and supported by two or three more; and now the Foundation is able to resource it to the point where all of our Members can benefit from it. Up till now it wouldn’t have been possible to fund such research from Members’ fees as their own budgets are restricted to supporting their participation in the Competition.
Are there other projects, such as the Youth Forum, which are currently handled by WSI that will become Foundation projects?
I think the easiest way to see what separates WSI projects from WSF ones is to follow the money trail. There are so many worthwhile ideas and projects to pursue in the grand scheme of things, but what can our Members truly justify in allocating their scarce resources? Certainly recognizing and motivating their past Competitors through the Youth Forum is more than justifiable, so that clearly remains a WSI project initiative. But many research and educational ideas to promote skills across the world fall outside our Members’ budgetary mandates.
Yet there are some great ideas being promoted by our Members which do fall outside running Competitions. I’m thinking of Singapore’s offer to past Competitors to take up a one year paid “Associate Teacher” position in their ITE Colleges for example.
You’re absolutely right. And this is where the Foundation can help market this idea, not only for Singapore, but also in other countries where we know our young skilled champions would love to have a further education and work experience opportunities. Remember we tried to get that going through the WSI Youth Exchange project which was suggested by an earlier Youth Forum, but it simply didn’t have sufficient resources behind it to succeed.
So in other words, there are a whole range of initiatives the Foundation could facilitate involving one or more of our Members which sit outside the scope of the Competition itself.
That about sums it up. So one of the first initiatives of the Foundation will be to ask Members what some of those ideas or projects might be and then test those ideas for which ones have the most likely chance of success and also their likely leverage in creating further success, like pebbles which create the biggest ripples in a pond.
How will the Foundation actually operate? Will it have its own office and staff and so forth?
Out of necessity we’ve learned to be pretty ‘lean’ in WorldSkills as far as staffing and overheads are concerned, so it will be no different with the Foundation. We are lucky to have the Ministry of Education in Spain as a co-founding partner, so they’ll be providing a part time secretary and also meeting facilities as we need them. But of course, like WSI, the Foundation will be a virtual operation with its own web presence, and making the best use of the latest info technology and social media outlets.
When will the Foundation website be launched?
We are aiming for early July, and using that to launch our search for great ideas and projects to present in London.
What about if someone has a great idea right now? How will you handle it?
I’d ask that person to hold their horse, and get ready for July where there will be an online opportunity to log their idea with the Foundation. In the meantime, nothing stops anyone from responding on this blog.
Before we wrap this up, how do you see the Foundation in 5 years time? And when will you know that its really successful?
In 5 years time the Foundation will have many more than it’s initial four Founding Global Partners. This will be testimony to its success, because partners will only be attracted to the Foundation if they consider its actually making a difference. Michelle, I think I’d like to close with a quotation from Mr Reinhardt Mohn, who was the founder of the Bertelsmann Foundation, one of the biggest and best in Europe.
Foundations embody an opportunity for social progress. They can debate and experiment with new approaches. It is, however, not enough to attempt to do this purely through public relations – foundations must prove what they can do. Foundations must show that they are pioneers, capable of identifying new approaches.
For more information please read the Board communiqué from the inaugural WorldSkills Foundation Board meeting.
Front row left to right: Roberto Spada BR, WSI Board member, Yoo Bae Kim KR, WSI Board member, Simon Bartley UK, WSI Board member, Livaldo Santos, Romi, Tjerk Dusseldorp AU, WSI Board member
Second row left to right: Ricardo Rezende, SENAI, Laurent Thibault CA, WSI Board member, Helen Smith, RMIT, Soledad Iglesias, Spain Ministry of Education, Miguel Soler, Spain Ministry of Education, Kerrie Stevens, DSF, Judy Turnbull, DSF, David Hoey, WSI CEO, Martin Williams, Festo, Gema Cavada Barrio, Spain Ministry of Education
Third row left to right: Allan Ballagh, RMIT, Rafael Lucchesi, SENAI, John Shiel AU, WSI Board elect member, Tommy Hellstrom SE, WSI Honorary Member, Timo Lankinen FI, WSI Board elect member
Back row left to right: Theodor Niehaus, Festo, Liam Corcoran IE, WSI Board member, Eduardo Calvin, guest; Terry Cooke CA, WSI Board elect member, Stefan Praschl AT, WSI Board elect member