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2016 WorldSkills Leaders Forum Provides New Perspectives on the Future of Skills

NIAGARA FALLS, Canada, Oct. 6, 2016 /CNW/ – Skills/Compétences Canada along with SkillsUSA hosted the WorldSkills Leaders Forum on October 4, as part of the WorldSkills General Assembly 2016. This one-day event allowed participants to hear global perspectives from industry, government, education and youth on the future of education and training. The main focus of the Leaders Forum was the future of skills.

At the WorldSkills Leaders Forum, participants heard new perspectives on global education practices and they networked with over 50 WorldSkills member countries and regions. They also heard from world-renowned keynote speakers on the future of technical and vocational education and participated in open discussions including views from industry leaders, educators and young champions. The Leaders Forum was well attended by approximately 300 international delegates. The day wrapped up with a Global Networking Café, sponsored by Canada’s Building Trades Unions, where participants had the opportunity to further discuss the perspectives shared throughout the day.

“The WorldSkills Leaders Forum provided a great opportunity to discuss and hear many perspectives on future skills required and the methods and philosophies for acquiring those skills. The forum is an important event that brings together members of the WorldSkills network and allows them to continue to build on the growing global skills movement,” said Shaun Thorson, chief executive officer, Skills/Compétences Canada.

“We were so honored to help plan the WorldSkills Leaders Forum as part of the 2016 General Assembly,” added Timothy Lawrence, executive director of SkillsUSA. “This event, focused on the world’s future highly-skilled technical workforce, provided the opportunity for dialogue and open discussion of best practices among the more than 50 participating nations. Three top-notch speakers brought new perspectives on ways to gain the knowledge and tools to close the skills gap, and it was a fascinating day.”

Summary of the Day’s Discussions
Change is the new reality in today’s skilled workforce. The world is experiencing a faster pace of change regarding new technologies than at any other time in history, which requires increased adaptability, flexibility and problem-solving skills to deal with the increasingly complex work environments.

Transformative technologies are changing the nature of jobs to more custom designs and human relationships, which underlines the importance of employability skills or “meta skills” (as pointed out by Pavel Luksha, founder of RF Group and a professional at the Moscow School of Management). These skills include concentration, attention management, resilience and the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn throughout a person’s life.

Lori Foster Thompson, a professor at N.C. State University, explained that skills development is essential to sustainable development, which involves the “freedom to achieve well-being.” She quoted a South African worker who described skills as something that “no one can ever take away from you.” She illustrated how work can be essential to well-being as a source of both economic and psychological empowerment, especially when there is a good fit between people and their jobs. This fit can be enhanced by incorporating insights from industrial-organizational and vocational psychology.

There is an essential link between employers, training and educators. Labor market information must encompass skills, tools and competencies. Industry must be in the training business, and educators need a consistent link back to industry. The focus on training was emphasized throughout the day by the keynote speakers and panelists. Training needs to reflect new realities as technology changes. The unique needs of individuals must also be taken into consideration rather than “education events” that focus on convenience for the institution rather than the learner.

DIY Network television host and renovation specialist Kayleen McCabe focused on passion: the importance of having it for your chosen vocation and how infectious passion can be in the workplace. She also stated that “working in trades is essentially the practical application of math.” Pursuing math skills as part of training for a skilled trade or technology career can make kids interested and good at math where they might not otherwise have been. McCabe also focused on positive role models for women in the trades and that there is not such thing as a job “just for men” or a job “just for women.”

About Skills/Compétences Canada
Skills/Compétences Canada was founded in 1989 as a national, not-for-profit organization that works with employers, educators, labour groups and governments to promote skilled trade and technology careers among Canadian youth. Its unique position among private and public sector partners enables it to work toward securing Canada’s future skilled labour needs while helping young people and aspiring apprentices discover rewarding careers. Skills/Compétences Canada offers experiential learning opportunities including skilled trade and technology competitions for hundreds of thousands of young Canadians through regional, provincial/territorial, national and international events, as well as skilled trade awareness programs. Many programs highlight the nine Essential Skills, which are crucial qualifications in most careers of today. Headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, Skills/Compétences Canada is the Canadian member organization of WorldSkills International. For information about Skills/Compétences Canada, visit: www.skillscanada.com.

About SkillsUSA
SkillsUSA is a vital solution to the growing U.S. skills gap. This nonprofit partnership of students, instructors and industry ensures America has the skilled workforce it needs to stay competitive. Founded in 1965 and endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education, the association serves more than 300,000 students and instructors each year in middle schools, high schools and colleges. This diverse talent pipeline covers 130 trades, technical and skilled service occupations, the majority STEM-related. More than 600 corporations, trade associations, businesses and labor unions actively support SkillsUSA at the national level. SkillsUSA programs are integrated into career and technical education through a framework of personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics. Local, state and national championships, designed and judged by industry, set relevant standards for career and technical education and provide recognition to students. SkillsUSA also offers technical skill assessments and other workplace credentials. For more information, visit: www.SkillsUSA.org.
About WorldSkills
WorldSkills is the collective voice for skills excellence and development in vocational, technological and service-oriented careers around the globe. Since 1950, its has raised the awareness among youth, as well as their parents, teachers, and employers, that our future depends on an effective skills training system. Today, WorldSkills represents more than 45 skills in 75 member countries and regions, all working together with youth, educators and industries to help prepare the workforce and talent of today for the jobs of the future.

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