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4 November 2009

He beat more than 800 Competitors to win the Albert Vidal Award

By Institute of Technical Education, Singapore

Thiam Shui after being announced as the winner of the Albert Vidal Award

Picture this: 26 top IT youths from all over the world in deep, intense concentration, all trying to do the tasks at hand. For Tan Thiam Shui, Singapore’s representative in the IT-PC/Network Support skill area at the WorldSkills Competition (WSC) 2009, the tension in the air was palpable.

Recalled Thiam Shui: “The competition area was much bigger. The environment was very competitive, as I was competing with 25 strong Competitors from countries such as Finland, USA, Switzerland, Korea, Japan and Germany. And each Competitor was the best from their own country!”

Despite the tense environment, Thiam Shui was unfazed. For four days, he worked steadily, tackling tasks such as configuring system and network devices and implementing business IT systems. “Proper planning was a critical part of the Competition. Each day, I had to plan out the many tasks and conquered them one by one. When I came across difficulties, I did not panic, but learnt to think on my feet. This strategy had worked well with me during the Singapore leg of the Competition, WorldSkills Singapore,” said Thiam Shui.

Thiam Shui’s strategy certainly worked well. He not only won the Gold Medal, but also beat more than 800 Competitors to win the Albert Vidal Award, as the top scorer of the Competition.

Thiam Shui had been very well-prepared for the competition by his polytechnic, Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP), Singapore. Said Thiam Shui: “The training provided by NYP was certainly challenging. My interest in this skill area strengthened day by day. It was difficult at first, as computer networking was not my forte then. However, with the guidance from the friendly and knowledgeable coaches, I managed to overcome the obstacles and pick up the skills quickly. The training had also taught me to face unexpected circumstances calmly, as events or activities do not always turn out smoothly. This ability had proven to be very useful throughout the Competition.”

As part of the training, Thiam Shui took up industry certifications such as the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) and Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) to stay up-to-speed on the latest technologies and to keep himself aligned with industry standards.

After four days of intense competition, Thiam Shui’s highlight was the Closing Ceremony of the Competition, when he was called on stage, together with the other 50 “Best of Nation” winners. They were gathered there to await the announcement of the Albert Vidal Award. Said Thiam Shui: “I was really astonished to hear my name being called as the winner of the Albert Vidal Award. Words simply cannot describe the feelings I had after receiving the Albert Vidal Award for my country. I was really very happy to know that all my hard work had finally paid off: the staying back till late at night, the long hours put into practice, the countless hours spent to research, sacrificing my vacation time and the need to juggle between training, studies and other school activities.” 

Thiam Shui at his workshop

Singapore has won Gold in IT-PC/Network Support competition area for the fifth consecutive time, since 2001, when that skills area was first introduced in the WorldSkills Competition. This is also the second time which Singapore has won the Albert Vidal Award. The first Albert Vidal Award for Singapore was won by Viridis Liew in 2005. Viridis was also a student from Nanyang Polytechnic.

Apart from IT-PC/Network Support, Singapore also won Gold in Caring and Graphic Design Technology at WSC2009.

On Singapore’s best showing ever at the WorldSkills Competition to date, Mr Bruce Poh, Singapore’s Official Delegate to WorldSkills and Director & CEO of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), said: “Team Singapore has delivered an excellent performance yet again. Despite the stiff competition from the world’s best skilled talents, our Competitors have proven their mettle and done the nation proud. While we are happy with the medal haul, every Competitor is a winner, and we hope that all will continue to excel in their future careers. I would also like to put on record my appreciation to the Singapore Experts and Coaches, who have worked tirelessly to prepare the Competitors for this life-changing experience.”

The Albert Vidal Award is given to the Competitor that reaches the highest score out of all Competitors in all skills areas.

Read more about the Albert Vidal Award and look up past winners.