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22 March 2018

Skills Heroes - Skills the Finals 2018

March 17th was a historic and record-breaking day for skills competitions in the Netherlands. The largest ever competition in the country’s history was held with more than 70 skill competitions for ages 14-16 and above 18.

The Closing Ceremony attracted around 3,000 spectators who witnessed the optimism of Dutch Champions who are newly motivated to take on the next steps in their careers. Some will continue to represent the Netherlands at EuroSkills 2018, which will take place in Budapest, Hungary from 26-28 September.

WorldSkills Flag Relay

In addition to the medal ceremony, one of the highlights of the event was the latest stop of the WorldSkills Flag Relay. Three patches were attached to the WorldSkills flag of the cities where WorldSkills has been held in The Netherlands.

Dutch WorldSkills Champion Pien Hoveling (gold medalist at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 for Visual Merchandising) had the honour to bring the flag to the stage. Jos de Goey, WorldSkills Board of Directors member and Official Delegate of The Netherlands, attached the patches to the flag. 

Immediately afterwards, the flag continued its journey to the next stop, Atlanta in the US where a ceremony will be held on Saturday, 24 March.

WorldSkills Netherlands

The Netherlands has been a WorldSkills Member since 1962 when eight Dutch Competitors participated in Gijon, Spain. At that time the competition had two age categories. One for 15-17 year-olds, and the other category for 18-22 year-olds.

The competitions that were organized in 1962 were primarily a representation of trades from the Building and Metalware sectors. Only 10 countries participated significantly increasing the chances of winning medals. Team Netherlands had a good first competition winning three bronze medals.

After competing internationally, in 1962 national skills championships were organized. For many years they took place in the city of Utrecht where on two occasions (1966 and 1977) the international competition was also held.

This changed when Dutch sector organizations started to organize their own national finals at trade fairs or similar events. All the national stakeholders joined forces for the international competition in 1991 and EuroSkills in 1998 and 2008.

For the past three years the National Skills Championship has been called ´Skills the Finals´ and it is organized with strong support from the Dutch VET schools. This created a platform where in cooperation with the schools and private sector, competitions are developed and organized. This includes some competitions that are not organized on the international level such as Hotel Receptionist and Entrepreneurship.

Berg Award

Outside the competition the event creates opportunities to highlight great achievements. This year – for the first time – a new award was made for the Competitor who displayed the greatest commitment to their training. It is named, the ´Berg Award´, in memory of our dear colleague Peter van den Berg who died in 2016. The word Berg means mountain in Dutch, so the award has a double meaning symbolizing the hard work and effort required to climb a mountain.

The first Berg award was won by Julian van Lohuizen (Plumbing and Heating Champion, WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017). As well as competing in Abu Dhabi Julian won the national championship and with be part of Team Netherlands at EuroSkills Budapest 2018.                                     

The highlights of Skills the Finals can be seen here: