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European Commission hosts ‘Champions of Excellence’ event in Brussels



Over 400 young people met with WorldSkills, EuroSkills, and Abilympics Champions at the European Commission to discover the exciting paths in skilled careers.

WorldSkills collaborated with the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) to organise the event ‘Meet the Champions of Excellence’ on 23 February 2024.

Framed under the European Year of Skills 2023 campaign, the one-day event at the European Commission premises in Brussels was designed to promote the benefits and opportunities offered by Vocational Education and Training (VET).

Despite the strong career prospects and greater job opportunities in VET, only 50% of students enrolled in medium-level education in the European Union in 2021 were in skills. The European Year of Skills 2023 aimed to address the serious skills gaps faced by companies within the European Union and help reskill people with the focus on digital and green technology. The campaign has encompassed a wide variety of initiatives in collaboration with social partners like WorldSkills Europe and WorldSkills International.

Over 500 participants gathered for ‘Meet the Champions of Excellence’, engaging with 35 EuroSkills, WorldSkills and Abilympics Champions in more than 20 different skills from across Europe. They also learned about the skills needed for current and future jobs, as well as VET.

Skill demonstrations included Mechanical Engineering CAD, Robot Systems Integration, Floristry, Welding (simulator), and Water Technology, showcased by the Champions in action.


The event also included a high-level panel with Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, EESC President Oliver Röpke, and WorldSkills Europe CEO Laurence Gates, who enjoyed an interesting exchange with the Champions. They talked about excellence in VET and the essential role of VET to seize current and future job opportunities.

“You cannot be what you cannot see. What we want through WorldSkills and EuroSkills Competitions is to show young people what careers in skills can do for them. There’s a misconception that to succeed in life, you need a university degree. We are here to show you that that’s not the case,” said Ms Gates during the panel.

The panel was followed by four interactive parallel sessions on topics such as learning mobility, skills for the future, and gender stereotypes.


At the end of the event, Mr Schmit reminded participants that, “vocational training offers so many opportunities in today’s labour market,” and added that meeting the skills champions from across Europe was a great honour, which he hoped would inspire young people to consider whether vocational training could be the right path for them.

Participants in the event included representatives from the EESC and its Labour Market Observatory, as well as from the European Commission. Organisations focusing on education, training, young people and social dialogue also took part, including the European Youth Forum, the European Apprentices Network, Cedefop, the European Training Foundation, the Lifelong Learning Platform, social partners and many others.