When he is not preparing for EuroSkills Budapest where he will lend his expertise in restaurant service to one of the competitors from the Latvian team, Martins Kukojs works as assistant manager of Vincents, one of the most highly regarded restaurants in Northern Europe.

A veteran of skills competitions, Martins participated in many local, national, and international competitions before taking on his current job. And of all the competitions he has been involved in, he says, those organised by WorldSkills Europe and WorldSkills International have been the most rewarding. “WorldSkills and EuroSkills are always going to be the most memorable experiences given how well organised everything was despite the competitions being huge and involving lots of people.”

Now, armed with years of experience, Martins has some practical advice for this year’s EuroSkills competitors.

“They should not only prepare for the competition by following their test projects step-by-step. They should also prepare by envisioning some real-life situations relating to their skills. It might help them be more confident during the competition and not lose their concentration during what could be a stressful situation.”

Being part of the WorldSkills universe, he adds, has made it easier for him to see the importance in vocational skills. “Now that I’m an expert in restaurant service and an assistant manager of one of the best restaurants in the Baltics, it is a lot easier to see the importance in having young professional people working alongside me.

“When young people with a background in vocational education come to the restaurant, and when they have experience of skills competitions, they are quick learners because they already have the necessary skills to make an impact in the hospitality sector. I believe this applies to all professions.”