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Have skills, will travel

ITS manager volunteers at WorldSkills competition in Russia

By Sandy Woolfrey-Fahey

The 45th WorldSkills International Competition in Kazan, Russia, was a spectacle to witness and one Memorial staff member was there to witness it all.

David Cantwell, manager, student services, Information Technology Services, took part in the international competition as an expert with the web technologies team.

The WorldSkills Competition, held every two years, is the largest vocational, education and skills excellence event in the world.

WorldSkills Kazan 2019 took place Aug. 22-27 and included more than 1,300 youth competitors and more than 1,300 experts from 63 countries.

The Canadian contingent participated in 29 of the 56 skill areas in six sectors, including construction and building technology, creative arts and fashion, information and communication technology, manufacturing and engineering technology, social and personal services and transportation and logistics.

Life-changing experience

“This is a life-changing event for the participants, providing an opportunity to broaden their skill area,” said Mr. Cantwell. “It also provides an opportunity for experts to share with others in similar disciplines and to learn from those in different disciplines.”

Not only did the students have an opportunity to network, but, as an expert, Mr. Cantwell now too has new colleagues around the world with whom he can engage and share.

For Mr. Cantwell, the experience was an evolution and extension of the rewarding work he does with provincial and national skills competitions and with mentoring Memorial students as part of his work.

The Canadian contingent of experts
The Canadian contingent of experts in Kazan, Russia.
Photo: Submitted

Collaboration and growth

He shares one story of an inspiring scene he witnessed during the competition.

“One of the events was team based. Competitors were grouped in fours and asked to create an augmented reality web application,” he explained.

“It was interesting to watch as one group, using their interpreters to communicate, used low-tech pen and paper to map out their high-tech solution. It was a good example of how they may work internationally in their future careers.”

The experience was about more than just the competition. Mr. Cantwell toured the city of Kazan and explored the impressive WorldSkills Expo Centre, which was constructed for the competition. When he lost his iPhone, he used Google Translate to converse with friendly Russian police to locate it. He also participated in the Olympic-style closing ceremonies.

However, what he appreciated the most was the chance to form new friendships with other world experts and competitors.

“It was a great opportunity to meet new people from around the world with a shared interest in web technologies and who were invested in ensuring their competitors had the best experience possible in Kazan,” Mr. Cantwell said.

Mr. Cantwell looks forward to the next WorldSkills event in Shanghai, China, in 2021.

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