Skills Change Worlds – An Insight into WorldSkills

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Cathal McGee, Donegal ETB Senior Welding Instructor and WorldSkills Expert in Welding.

Cathal McGee is the Senior Welding Instructor in our Further Education and Training (FET) Service and also a WorldSkills Expert in Welding, the only WorldSkills Expert in the country based within an Education and Training Board. This week he’s attending the 2022 WorldSkills Special Edition Competition in Cleveland, Ohio in the United States with WorldSkills Ireland‘s welding competitor. In this blog he explains what the WorldSkills Competition is all about.   

WorldSkills is the collective voice for skills excellence and development in vocational, technological, and service oriented careers around the globe. Every two years WorldSkills hosts the world championships of skills which attracts more than 1,600 competitors from over 60 countries.

At this event, young people from all corners of the globe gather together for the chance to win a prestigious medal in their chosen skill. There are competitions in 56 skills across a wide range of industries — from joinery to floristry; hairdressing to electronics; and autobody repair to bakery. The competitors represent the best of their peers and are selected from skills competitions that are held in WorldSkills member countries and regions.

Following a rigorous application process, I became a WorldSkills Ireland Expert in 2018, the first to be based within an Education and Training Board. Experts play a critical role at WorldSkills competitions in representing their country or region and sharing their experience in their skill.

Two people - Christopher and Cathal.
Christopher Kehoe, 2019 WorldSkills Ireland welding competitor and Cathal.

WorldSkills competitors come through national competitions to represent their country at the global WorldSkills competitions. The Irish WorldSkills welding competitor undertakes two months of training with me in preparation for the competition. Three years ago, Christopher Kehoe from Wexford represented Ireland at the 2019 WorldSkills competition in Karzan in Russia and he came home with a Medallion of Excellence which was a testament to his training and skills. This was one of fourteen medals brought home by Ireland from this world stage in what was the country’s biggest ever haul of medals.

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Jamie Leahy, 2022 WorldSkills Ireland welding competitor and Cathal.

Like many other events, the global pandemic upset its biennial timeframe and the 2021 WorldSkills, due to take place in Shanghai in China, was moved to 2022. However, on 31 May, WorldSkills International (WSI), in agreement with WorldSkills Members, WorldSkills Shanghai 2022 Executive Bureau, and WorldSkills China (MOHRSS) announced the cancellation of WorldSkills Shanghai 2022. WorldSkills Members and Global Partners then agreed to hold a series of skill competitions across multiple countries and regions (collectively known as WorldSkills Competition 2022 Special Edition). The WorldSkills Welding competition moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where it is being hosted by Lincoln Electric.

Cathal and Jamie at a work benc
Cathal and Jamie in the training workshop.

Representing Ireland at this event is Jamie Leahy from Listowel in Co Kerry who beat off seven other competitors from around the country, including Donegal, to win his chance to represent his country. In preparation for the competition, Jamie completed eight weeks of specialised training with me in our Letterkenny Training Centre.

We would like to wish Jamie and Cathal the very best of luck at the competition in Cleveland this week!