Young contestants home with fruitful results at the WorldSkills Competition
The 44th WorldSkills Competition has just come to a successful conclusion in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. The Hong Kong Team brings honour to Hong Kong by scooping up a Bronze Prize and seven Medallions for Excellence. Our working partners, namely the Construction Industry Council (CIC) and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD), have sent six young contestants, together with participants from other sectors, to represent Hong Kong to compete with other contestants from around the world in this international competition hailed as the “Skills Olympics”. A few days ago, I invited our young contestants to share with us their competition experiences and results. I am glad that apart from coming home with satisfactory results, they also find the competition a joyful and unforgettable experience. I am absolutely pleased to see that our young people are willing to challenge themselves, make continuous improvements and value every opportunity to widen their exposure and experience. I believe that they will be able to unleash their potential and shine for the world to see in future.
Launched in 1950, the WorldSkills Competition is held every two years in different countries. This year, the four-day competition attracted about 1 300 contestants from around 60 countries and places to compete in 51 skills. A total of 22 young contestants from Hong Kong competed in 20 skills at the competition. Fielding the largest ever team, Hong Kong also took part in the highest ever number of skill sectors this year. It should be noted that contestants participating in the WorldSkills Competition must be under 22 and can only join the game once in their lifetime. To be able to participate in the world’s largest international skills competition is indeed an opportunity that should not be missed.
Intensive pre-competition training with incredible results
The CIC sent four contestants to take part in the competition this year. They are Mr YAU Ho-him (Bricklaying), Mr SUEN Yiu-pan (Joinery), Mr YIP Kim-fai (Wall and Floor Tiling) and Ms WONG Mei-sze (Painting and Decorating). Before the competition, the contestants had been provided with training for almost a year including skill training, problem-solving, time management, psychological and physical training, to further enhance their skills and craftsmanship to an international level. The experts and professionals engaged by the CIC to provide training this year included star trainers such as the “Wonder Kid” Mr TSO Sing-yu, Rex, and the “Champion of Bun Scrambling Competition” Mr LAI Chi-wai, who taught the contestants how to boost confidence and stay calm during the competition. In the end, all contestants achieved good results. More important, they had a chance to appreciate the high skill levels of contestants from other countries.
The EMSD, for the first time, sent an electrical and mechanical (E&M) expert, along with two technicians, to compete in “Refrigeration and Air Conditioning” and “Electrical Installations”. Before the competition, the EMSD specially set aside a site at its headquarters for training, including the setting up of a platform for mock races based on the specifications drawn up by the competition organiser, so as to let the contestants gear up for the competition. After intensive training, their skills were further improved and were given full play at the competition. After competing for several days, Mr CHAN Siu-lam won a Medallion for Excellence in “Electrical Installations”, while Mr LAU Chi-ching achieved satisfactory results in “Refrigeration and Air Conditioning”.
An eye-opening experience with strong contestants
Contestants who are able to represent their own countries or places in a world-class competition must be elites. Although our contestants have already attained very high levels of skills through training over a long time, they all are still very impressed with the sophisticated skills of contestants from other countries. Through this competition, they have broadened their horizons in the use of tools and techniques and enriched their knowledge, which can be applied to their work to improve their skills and efficiency back in Hong Kong. Now that the competition results have been out, no matter what achievements one gets, what is most important is that young people have the opportunity to travel out of Hong Kong for an eye-opening trip in Abu Dhabi, where they can gain knowledge and make friends with other industry players with shared convictions and interests. Friendships like this are hard to come by.
Enhanced training to address manpower shortages
According to the Census and Statistics Department, the overall labour force in Hong Kong is expected to reach the peak in 2019 before it drops continuously after 2022. In the construction industry, about 40 percent of our registered skilled workers currently reach the age of 55 or above, and these senior skilled workers are going to retire gradually over the next five to ten years. Since 2010, the Government has allocated a total of $420 million to support the CIC to strengthen the training of local construction personnel. To attract more new entrants, the CIC has since April 2017 implemented the “designated workers for designated skills” requirement for construction workers, and put in place structured progression pathways to provide career development opportunities for industry practitioners.
Based on the findings of the image tracking surveys conducted for the construction industry, the number of young interviewees willing to join the industry has increased significantly from 8% in 2011 to more than 24% in 2017. Regarding the provision of training, the annual number of skilled workers trained up by the CIC has increased substantially from about 1 000 to more than 5 000 during the period from 2009 to September 2017. A total of more than 27 000 skilled workers have been trained over the past nine years.
The development of Hong Kong and the daily lives of people are closely related to a wide array of construction techniques and the installation, operation and maintenance of E&M equipment, which all rely on the support given by technical experts. It can be seen that vocational and professional education and training is crucial to the sustained development of our society. The CIC and the EMSD have always played an active role in nurturing talents for their industries. In the years ahead, there will be an enormous demand for talents in both the construction and E&M industries. I hope that more young people will join the two industries, acquire more skills and enhance their skill levels through continuous in-service training. I also hope that young people will share with us their ideas and suggestions. Let us work together to make contributions to the industries.
5 November, 2017