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7 June 2021

Experts Faculty mentoring helps Costa Rica’s skill development

The first stage of a mentoring programme between volunteers from the WorldSkills Experts Faculty and Member country Costa Rica is coming to a successful close.

Volunteers from the WorldSkills Experts Faculty have begun sharing their knowledge with Member country Costa Rica.

The project is a direct result of an initiative first proposed at WorldSkills Kazan 2019, when representatives from the Experts Faculty met with Technical Delegates from several Members to see how they might contribute to the WorldSkills community.

One of those was WorldSkills Costa Rica, and just as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning, representative for Social and Personal Services, Adriana Lucía Dueñas Garzón approached the country’s Technical Delegate Roy Ramirez Quesada about creating a mentoring programme.

The move was spurred by the pandemic, with Costa Rica began urgently seeking ways to develop new training and work practices to adjust to the new world of health restrictions and beyond.

“Everybody needed solutions, advice, and support on challenges that were never experienced before,” says Meera Jayaraman, the Faculty’s representative for Creative Arts and Fashion, and who managed the programme with Adriana as the Expert Faculty’s representatives.

“Costa Rica was specifically faced with a very unique challenge. As their economy is largely dependent on the tourism sector, they were hit very badly due to the pandemic.”

Around 350 members of the WorldSkills Expert Faculty were contacted, asking if they would give their time.

In turn, Costa Rica expressed interest in working with Experts who had experience in vocational training and had worked in industry — two key areas they wanted to develop.

The first stage of the mentoring programme began last November with the focus on sanitation and the handling of food products, aimed at supporting the hospitality industry, and skills like Cooking and Restaurant Service - all important to the economy of Costa Rica, a popular tourist destination before the pandemic.

Mentoring centered round two to three hour virtual meetings, with question and answer sessions recorded so they could be widely distributed.

The knowledge exchange was not one way - Experts were given a virtual tour of Costa Rica’s food and culture at the end of each meeting.

“This programme has allowed Costa Rican trainers to share their experiences and enrich their knowledge by opening their minds to the new challenges of the 21st century under principles of globality, adaptability, flexibility, excellence, and international standards,” says Roy Ramirez.

Working with their international peers “is an excellent way to motivate our trainers, giving them the opportunity to share their challenges, ideas, and proposals with international experts who have had experience in WorldSkills processes, teaching, and industry, which feeds back into their work and promotes growth under international standards.”

“For WorldSkills Costa Rica, this process has allowed us to demonstrate the value of WorldSkills beyond the competition processes,” he says.

Both Adriana and Meera agree. “What made this more special was the relationship built between all the participants, and an eagerness on both sides to collaborate on more projects in the future.” 

“The WorldSkills Experts Faculty team also learnt a lot from Costa Rica, as everyone was dealing with new challenges in a post-pandemic era,” Meera says. “All the participants wanted to know how each country was dealing with the pandemic. Therefore, in terms of knowledge exchange, it was a win-win situation for everyone.”

With the first stage of the mentoring programme finishing in February, the Experts Faculty and Costa Rica have now started on the second module and the topic of Web Technologies and IT Platforms. A further four topics are planned.

The WorldSkills Experts Faculty is a collection of Experts from previous WorldSkills Competitions sharing their expertise through projects that build the WorldSkills movement and improve skills development around the world.

For out more about the power of sharing, including how to join the Experts Faculty.