Sep. 22, 2017
The official launch ceremony of Team Korea set to participate in the 44th WorldSkills Competition to be held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates took place at Global Institute for Transferring Skills of the Human Resources Development Service of Korea (HRD Korea) in Bupyong-gu, Incheon on September 22nd (Fri.).
More than 250 people including Employment and Labor Minister Kim Young-joo, WorldSkills Korea's acting chairperson Park Soon-hwan, competitors, international judges, coaches, parents and people from sponsoring organizations attended the ceremony to confirm their determination to top the medal table for the 20th time.
The 44th WorldSkill Competition, which will last for six days from October 14th (Sat.) to 19th (Thu.) and in which 1,259 competitors from 68 countries (as of Sept. 14) will participate, is the first such event to be held in the Middle East.
Korea will field 46 competitors in a total of 42 trade or skill categories including polymechanics, vehicle maintenance and floristry.
They all won medals at the regional and national skills competitions in 2015 and 2016 and are top competitors selected through two qualifying rounds held between October 2016 and January 2017 in which each competitor had to beat at least 340 rivals to secure a place in the national team.
Starting with mental training, they participated in joint enhancement training conducted at Global Institute for Transferring Skills and other 13 training centers nationwide for more than 200 days from March 13th. They received on average at least 14 hours of intensive training a day to enhance their skills.
The 46 competitors who gathered for the launch ceremony expressed their ambitions to show off their skills to the fullest extent, following in the footsteps of their predecessors.
Kim Eun-ho (aged 19), a student at Chungnam Design Arts High School, who will compete in the category of 3D Digital Game Art, which was added as a demonstration skill following a proposal by Korea, expressed his resolve, saying "I will do my best so that our country can keep finding new trade or skill categories and establish itself as a technologically advanced country that drives the growth of the WorldSkills Competition."
Im Yeong-seop (aged 20), a student at Cheju Halla University, who will compete in the category of restaurant service, showed a sense of responsibility and confidence as a national team member by saying, "The curriculum and various programs I went through while studying in the department of tourism and hospitality management at Jeju High School specializing in tourism for three years have been of great help to me. I would like to achieve a good result because this is the first time in eight years that our country has sent a competitor to compete in the category of restaurant service at the WorldSkills Competition."
Since it first joined the WorldSkills Competition held in Spain in 1967, Korea has participated in 28 WorldSkills Competitions, including the one in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2015, and secured the top spot in the overall medal count at 19 of them.
Fierce competition is expected at the 44th WorldSkills Competition as many countries, including China, Brazil (the host country of the 2015 WorldSkills Competition) and Russia (the host country of the 2019 WorldSkills Competition), as well as existing skills powers in the area of basic manufacturing, such as Japan, Switzerland and Taiwan, are concentrating investment and support on fostering a skilled workforce.
The Korean national team has gathered and analyzed information on other national teams' performance, levels and training systems, etc. It has also conducted training at home and abroad along with teams from Australia, Germany, Japan, etc., and made other various efforts, such as learning about global skill trends and building up networks.
Employment and Labor Minister Kim Young-joo, who attended the launch ceremony, gave encouragement to Team Korea, saying, "You, who have diligently honed and polished your skills and are about to proudly compete on the world stage, are the source of national competitiveness and driving force behind the future of skills in Korea."
National team leader Park Soon-hwan said, "As a person who has watched our national team members' efforts and desperation up close, I hope that all you competitors and international judges will achieve your dreams and return home in good health."
The WorldSkills Competition, organized by WorldSkills International, has been held every two years since 1950 for the purpose of improving skill levels and promoting skills development through skills exchanges among young people in its member countries.
The government gives each gold, silver and bronze medalist 67.2 million won, 56 million won and 39.2 million won, respectively, in prize money and a medal of honor or an order of merit, just as it does to Olympic medalists.
Medalists are given other benefits, too. They are exempt from the industrial engineer qualification examination under the national technical qualification system, allowed to work as skilled industrial personnel instead of serving in the military and paid 5.05~12 million won a year in continuous engagement grants if they continue to be engaged in their skill fields.