EuroSkills Graz 2021: Leading the charge to increase the number of skilled workers in Europe
In just 12 days from today, the starting signal will be sounded for EuroSkills Graz 2021 – the first European Championship of Young Professionals to be hosted in Austria.
EuroSkills is the biggest vocational education and skills excellence event in Europe. Founded by WorldSkills Europe in 2006, the biennial event brings together educators, young people, governments, and industries to help prepare the workforce and talent of today for the jobs of the future.
Around 400 young skilled professionals from across Europe will gather at EuroSkills Graz 2021, from 22-26 September, to showcase their talents on an international stage as they compete to become the best of the best in their chosen skill. There will be competitions in 38 official skills and 10 Host Presentation Skills. Competitions cover a vast array of skills, ranging from web development to bakery; from joinery to floristry; and from automobile technology to mobile robotics.
“There’s a unique enthusiasm and excitement about this event that is hard to resist,” said Josef Herk, Supervisory Chairman of EuroSkills Graz 2021. “The fabulous achievements of the young professionals leave us with an indescribable joy and sense of drama, like a combination of the spectacular Hahnenkamm downhill ski race and an ACDC rock concert.”
EuroSkills is even more significant in 2021 as the world now looks to skills, and highly skilled young workers to help lead the way forward in the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. And EuroSkills Graz 2021 plays a key role in helping to address the current challenges, including the European shortage of skilled workers.
“At EuroSkills, we prepare an international stage for young professionals and turn skilled workers into heroes. The event supports our companies through targeted measures to make skills and trades more attractive, thereby ensuring that highly trained, skilled workers will still be available in the future,” added Herk.
“Skilled workers are coveted as never before”
The shortage of skilled workers is indeed not only an Austrian phenomenon, but has become a challenge that affects the whole of Europe. From France to Germany and Belgium, from Italy and Liechtenstein to Portugal, “skilled workers are coveted as never before,” said Dita Traidas, President of WorldSkills Europe. “This is also a result of the demographic change, which is set to pose major challenges for the whole of Europe in the years to come as the ‘baby boomer’ generation reaches retirement age. And, with the birth rate having fallen significantly, the number of skilled workers is also dropping just as fast. The result is a gap that can only be closed by highly qualified, skilled workers,” added Traidas.
“The future belongs to young professionals”
According to UN figures, even as soon as 2030, the working population in the European Union is expected to have decreased by up to seven percent, i.e. approx. 13.5 million people. This is equivalent to a city the size of Munich – each and every year. “This is one of the reasons why the future belongs to young professionals all over Europe,” said Stefan Praschl, Board Member of WorldSkills Europe. “Highly trained, skilled workers are the backbone of society and the economy. At EuroSkills, we can now offer them the stage they deserve for their achievements. We are greatly looking forward to hosting the European Skills Championships, at long last,” added Praschl.
Preparations almost complete
The preparations at the event venue, SFZ (Schwarzl Freizeit Zentrum), are in the final stages. The construction of the “Skills Village” continues, with eleven out of the twelve super-size, temporary structures already complete. Plumbing systems and power units have already been installed and the internet is up and running. In the tented halls, special floors are being laid and the lighting is being installed. The first machines and products needed for the competitions will be arriving next week. These include the machines for the carpenters and joiners, as well as wheel loaders, excavators and trucks to be used for the Heavy Vehicle Technology and Heavy Truck Maintenance skill categories. The CNC systems, which have been specially produced for EuroSkills Graz 2021 and weigh several tonnes, will follow in a few days. The heavyweight equipment, vehicles and components will be accommodated in the venue’s Davis Cup Hall, where the foundations have a greater load capacity.
Smaller components and tools, such as wall plugs and screws, spoons, whisks, and gardening shears will be taken from the three well stocked logistics warehouses in Graz to SFZ next week. Everything needs to be ready by 20 September, when the final acceptance checks of Competition areas will be carried out by the WorldSkills Europe Competition Committee.
Guillaume Suteau, Chair of the Competition Committee, who arrives in Graz on 17 September, said: “We need to settle in and familiarise ourselves quickly with the premises, which we have only seen on videos so far. We will need to inspect everything that has been prepared. But above all, we will need to find out what still needs to be done and might cause a headache later, when the competitions start.” The other Committee members – one from each participating country – are responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules and will chair the judging panels during the competitions.
Member countries are fully prepared
The organisation is highly professional – not just at EuroSkills level, but also in the 19 participating member countries (plus the three guest nations: Albania, Thailand, and the UAE): “All WorldSkills Europe Member Countries are doing a great job of supporting the development of the young competitors,” said WorldSkills Europe Board Member Francis Hourant. “Countries such as France, Germany, and Switzerland as well as many other nations are holding team-building camps and other events, so that competitors from all areas can meet and take part in activities that help them to share experiences, build new contacts and develop skills. The level of organisation in all the member countries is superb, and no country is leaving anything to chance. EuroSkills is a showdown of the very best – and that includes organisation.”
Support from sponsors
This professionalism of all involved in EuroSkills Graz 2021 is appreciated by the great many sponsors, such as ‘Diamond Sponsor’ Energie Steiermark (Austrian Energy provider). “As a Styrian flagship company, we regard it as our duty, rather than simply a voluntary undertaking, to invest in young, talented people. That’s why we are delighted to be partnering EuroSkills Graz 2021 and thereby preparing a stage for our future skilled workers. We are convinced that EuroSkills 2021 in Graz will help show vocational skills and qualifications in the best possible light, as a key factor for business success,” emphasised Urs Harnik-Lauris, spokesman for Energie Steiermark.
Anyone wishing to visit EuroSkills Graz 2021 to cheer on the national and international competitors must pre-register at tickets.euroskills2021.com. There are three time slots available for registration on each competition day. This means that visitors can access the site from 8:30am to 11:30am, 11:30am to 2:30 pm, and/or 2:30pm to 5:30pm on 23, 24, and 25 September.
Anyone accessing the site must comply with the COVID-19 regulations currently in place, with evidence of vaccination or recovery, or a negative COVID-19 test result. It is possible to register for any or all of the time slots available. For each time slot, a maximum of 3,500 visitors will be allowed access to the 70,000 square metre premises at the SFZ. This allows more than 20 square metres per visitor at all times.
These measures are in addition to the guidelines and legal provisions set out by the Austrian Federal Government. For the latest information, visit: https://euroskills2021.com/en/covid-19-guide-en/.