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23 February 2024

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.

Participants at the event ‘Meet the Champions of Excellence’ in Brussels pose for a photograph on 23 February 2024.

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

Framed under the European Year of Skills, the one-day event at the European Commission premises was promoting the benefits and opportunities offered by Vocational Education and Training (VET).

Despite the strong career prospects and greater job opportunities in VET, only half the students enrolled in medium-level education in the European Union were in the skills pathways in 2021. The European Year of Skills aims 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 encompasses a wide variety of initiatives in collaboration with social partners like WorldSkills.

Over 500 participants gathered for ‘Meet the Champions of Excellence’, engaging with 35 WorldSkills, EuroSkills, 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 vocational education and training (VET).

Skill demonstrations included Mechanical Engineering CAD, Robot System 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 Board member 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 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.

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

A WorldSkills Champion shows her floristry skills during the event ‘Meet the Champions of Excellence’ on 23 February 2024.

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 today’s 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.