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Modelling Vocational Excellence

We wanted to know about how young people experience WorldSkills so that WorldSkills has the information it needs to help make that experience as positive as possible.  We also want to know how young people become skilled at their trade and what happens during the training, work and competition stages of the journey towards skills excellence.

By having the competitors, employers, judges, trainers and family share their experiences we will understand more about skills, excellence, training and work and how or where to make improvements.

Already the competitor’s stories are providing a rich vein of data:

There is nothing to lose. All competitors are winners. Just to be selected as one of the top young people in their trade category they win the opportunity to meet and work beside the best in our nation. As well as seeing all the different ideas, approaches and outcomes.

In my category I am sure everyone will be taking someone else’s ideas home to further their wealth of knowledge and experience.

We have collected 254 competitor narratives on the experience of the WorldSkills competition in the first MoVE survey.  Some are just brief statements of fact or advice, for example:

Only enter the competition if you can spend a long part of your time training.

Many, however brief, exhibit enthusiasm for chosen skill areas and a preparedness to take on new challenges:

I joined beauty therapy because it came naturally – I love it!

I tell them that I chose my area because I enjoy a bit of a challenge and meeting new people in the making.

WorldSkills is a great experience and can lead on to great opportunities.  I went to Brisbane to compete and although this was no holiday, it led to me doing something I have never done before…

Be involved! It’s great! I’ve had an awesome time. Long hours, but it is worth it.

These narratives bring an additional dimension to the data available through the attitude scales, multiple choice and demographic questions which comprise the remainder of the survey.

MoVE Australia method and focus

MoVE Australia is the first international application of the original MoVE research project, initiated by Dr. Petri Nokelainen, from the Centre for Vocational Education and Training Research at the University of Tampere, Finland.

The MoVE Australia research draws on Dr. Nokelainen’s theoretical framework and methodology, and has introduced some new features. Whereas the basic research is testing hypotheses about the formation of vocational excellence (i.e. what characterises vocational excellence), MoVE Australia method is applying the basic research to questions about the WorldSkills experience (i.e. how the journey towards excellence is experienced by competitors, their families, judges, employers and trainers).

We’re currently analyzing the data and whilst there’s more to be done one of the strongest emerging themes from the competitor data is the positive value of WorldSkills as a learning experience and opportunity to test skills and knowledge. A significant number of competitors stressed the difference that WorldSkills has made to their training and work and the expression ‘life changing experience’ was used in several stories.

The narratives contributed by judges and trainers also affirmed the value of WorldSkills for competitors. The overwhelming majority of responses maintained that WorldSkills was about ‘much more then winning’ and some drew on their own past experience as competitors to illustrate their point.

I competed in National competitions 3 times and each time my confidence in my abilities grew. The training I participated in developed my career options and made me feel very proud of what I could do.  It’s great to know that you do your job really well – very satisfying.  I learned how to cope with disappointment and I experienced the triumph as well.  I am a stronger and braver, more skilled, more motivated and confident person because of WorldSkills – now I judge and design and continue to invest in something that builds better people for our industry and beyond. (Judge)

I am constantly asked why exactly I volunteer as a Judge for WorldSkills. I did not win the competition I competed in, so why bother hanging around? WorldSkills has a variety of paths people can follow. My path is that I am an ex competitor that did not “win” the competition. Since that time though, I have been judging the Australian competitions and have found that it greatly increases my understanding about WorldSkills and my trade. I have learnt how my trade is perceived by the public, and also improved my own skills though teaching and training competitors. The people also play a big part in why I volunteer, and why I think I am still benefiting from the path that I have followed. The WorldSkills competitions bring together some of the best people in the World, both technically and also socially. It’s a great atmosphere, and something I really enjoy. (Judge)

Over the next few months we look forward to sharing more about MoVE with you and if you want to know more in the meantime contact:

Helen Smith , RMIT,

Judy Turnbull, DSF,

MoVE is a partnership project between Dusseldorp Skills Forum, RMIT, WorldSkills Australia and University of Tampere, Finland.

2 Comments to “Modelling Vocational Excellence”

Laurent Thibault 16 August 2010 at 4:34 pm #

The MoVE research about how young people experience the WordlSkills competitions is very encouraging to the thousands of dedicated ‘WorldSkillers’ who spend a lot of volunteer time on this event. We have always known from anecdotal comments and from our own surveys that young people have a very positive experience, but it is good to see this confirmed by more structured research.

It is particularly gratifying to see that “one of the strongest emerging themes from the competitor data is the positive value of WorldSkills as a learning experience and opportunity to test skills and knowledge. A significant number of competitors stressed the difference that WorldSkills has made to their training and work and the expression ‘life changing experience’ was used in several stories.”

I hope all previous competitors will take up the challenge of spreading the word about WorldSkills in their own network of friends & relatives so that it will get the support it needs in their countries to continue to offer this experience to the next generation.

Mark Callaghan WS 19 August 2010 at 6:48 am #

In early 2010, WorldSkills Australia entered into a partnership with the Dusseldorp Skills Forum and RMIT University to underatke a research project to explore questions of voicational excellence.
The first phase of the project was the collection of data from competitors at the WSA National Competition and from the analysis of what has been collected to date we are already uncovering some valuable information that will not only allow us to continue to improve on the overall WorldSkills experience but will also help to position WSA more favourably with our key funding bodies and stakeholders.
The narrative approach to data collection that is being used for the MoVE research has also provided us with additional information that will also ‘value-add’ to WSA. We, like most WorldSkills members, are heavily reliant on volunteer resources to deliver our programs and we are constantly faced with issues of succession planning and the attraction and retention of volunteers. The information we have recieved to date highlights the reasons why volunteers are prepared to continually give their time and it is information such as this that will allow us to develop processes to attract and retain volunteers in the future.
The next phase of data collection will capture information from the competitors suppprt netwrok (trainers, employers, families, etc.).
Even though it is early days in terms of data capture and the analysis of the research I am confident that it will provide us with a rich vein of information to help us improve the WorldSkills expereince for all particpants, further promote WorldSkills as well as assisting us with the lobbying of governments and other stakeholders.
I, along with all of the research partners, look forward to sharing more of MoVE Australia with all member countries in the coming months.