On May 13-20, Scott Norman and I were in Jeju, Korea for the WorldSkills General Assembly meeting. Approximately 150 delegates from member nations attended the meeting. I’d say as the new official delegate, and Scott as the new official technical delegate, both Scott and I learned a lot about the operations and vision of the WorldSkills organization. We also made some good industry contacts.
One of the business items was the final report on WorldSkills London 2011. There were 1,000 contestants (people at the meeting couldn’t believe that we’ll have 5,900 contestants at the upcoming Championships) and, 200,000 people attended. Many of the attendees were school children bused in or visited by national teams at their schools. The event cost about $88 million. The British government picked up half of that cost. The U.S. hosted the WorldSkills Competition in 1981. When asked if we’d do it again, I looked at those costs and said: “Not any time soon.” A clear disappointment for the WorldSkills in London was that despite some of the royal family and the prime minister attending, the event didn’t receive coverage from the BBC.
We also heard some interesting presentations from Korea and Switzerland on what it takes to be a winning team at the WSC. Korean contestants are already workers by the time they compete. In fact, Korean contestants train for 10 hours a day for three years prior to the competition. And, there are some incentives. Korean medalists are exempt from compulsory military service, gold medalists are guaranteed lifetime employment at Samsung, and the medalists earn cash rewards and receive a ticker-tape parade upon their return to Korea. Swiss contestants are all in apprenticeships, and they have full government support for their training. All countries – except the United States – have federal support. The focus of every nation except the United States, is entirely on the competition.
Germany presented the logistics, venue and the travel package costs for the Leipzig, Germany 2013 WorldSkills Competition. The theme will be “Discover.” Sri Lanka, Russia and Trinidad/Tobago have all joined WorldSkills taking the number of member countries to 61. We also learned that the fee for each participating country will increase by three percent over the previous year.
Due to economic difficulties in Europe, the venue for the 2015 WSC has been moved from Madrid, Spain to Sao Paulo, Brazil. The good news, from a competition standpoint, is that SkillsUSA will be sending select contestants from our WorldTeam to the same venue for Skills Americas this November.