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12 August 2007

Europe in the spotlight at Dutch Skills Masters


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Contributed by: Skills Netherlands

The third edition of Skills Masters, the Dutch Skills Championships, was held in March 2007 and was bigger than ever; more visitors, more exhibitors and more entertainment. And above all, there was ‘breaking news’ concerning the ongoing development of EuroSkills, the pan-European skills event held in 2008 also in the venue Ahoy (Rotterdam). During Skills Masters the European Skills Promotion Organisation (ESPO) was officially inaugurated. Jos de Goey, Managing Director of Skills Netherlands was appointed the first President of ESPO. The main objectives of this new organisation are the further development and coordination of the upcoming and future EuroSkills events. More than a hundred and fifty special guests, including WorldSkills International delegates and representatives of European countries interested in joining EuroSkills attended the ESPO Founding Meeting and also visited the EuroSkills Preview. At this first trial of EuroSkills 2008, demonstrations of teamwork and integrated competitions were given in the sectors Construction Technology, Manufacturing Technology, Refrigeration Technology, Automotive Technology and Graphic Media.

Unique opportunity

Skills Masters has proven that its formula of bringing together national skills competitions, vocational education institutes and employers is an attractive one for youngsters of 14 – 20 years of age. For them, Skills Masters is a unique opportunity to experience modern trades and to get informed about their future education and jobs. The key to success in this is the combination of seeing skills competitions & demonstrations, participating in hands-on activities and finally gaining information from sector organisations, schools and employees.

Almost twenty five thousand people visited Skills Masters, of which the majority were recruited by special educational programmes. Besides there was free transport from schools to the Ahoy exhibition centre in Rotterdam.

European approach

In the past few months almost all European countries have shown serious interest in participating in EuroSkills 2008. To secure a truly European approach, a strong network of Skills organisations in Europe is a necessity. ESPO will establish that network and shall support its members in their preparatory work for EuroSkills. These and other, more promotional, activities are financed by the European Commission (Directorate-general Education and Culture) as part of its Lifelong Learning programme. At the founding meeting in Rotterdam an Executive Board was also established, in addition to Jos de Goey (The Netherlands) the following members; Eija Alhojarvi (Finland), Stefan Praschl (Austria), Kevin Woods (UK) and Antonio Caldeira (Portugal) joined the Executive Board. In the coming months ESPO will start its first activities, after finalising legal and financial affairs.

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