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27 May 2024

WorldSkills Members and Global Partners marvel at the record-breaking WorldSkills Museum

A delegation of WorldSkills Members and Global Partners enjoyed an exclusive tour of the WorldSkills Museum in Shanghai in May.

Less than six months since the WorldSkills Museum opened on the banks of the Huangpu River in Shanghai, the world’s first museum dedicated to skills is welcoming an average of almost 1,000 visitors a day. Last week, among the children and families trying out the installations, a small delegation of WorldSkills Members and Partners enjoyed the delights of the Museum as part of a special tour laid on by WorldSkills China, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS), and the Shanghai Municipal Government.

For these Members and Partners, it was more than just a tour. This was a chance to see the artefacts, souvenirs, and memories that many had contributed in situ in the Museum. The delegation began in the vast atrium with the impressive sight of the “World Engine” installation representing the 63 skills within the WorldSkills movement. Its circular shape signifies both the breadth of the global community and the delicate thimbles of the cotton embroiderers who worked in the Wing On Warehouse over a century ago.

As the Members and Partners toured the six interactive Zones, they found themselves time-travelling between past Competitions, modern-day innovations, and future technologies. Many were on the look-out for artifacts from their country or region. Maria Ekroth, CEO of Skills Finland, admired a medal from WorldSkills Helsinki 2005 along with a Finnish chainsaw, and a photograph of Emeliina Papinniemi’s gold medal-winning, Bansky-inspired chocolate sponge and meringue. Maria reflected, “It was so good to see the Finnish part of WorldSkills history. I think for young people the Museum will change how they are thinking about TVET education. For Members, it makes them respect the past but also look to the future.”

Ray English, Technical Delegate of WorldSkills Ireland, was keen to contribute memorabilia ever since WorldSkills China shared its intention to build the Museum back in 2017. He said, “We had already been collecting and cataloguing medals, trophies, and personal recollections so were able to provide some really strong assets to the collection for permanent display. We also used WorldSkills General Assembly 2023 in Dublin to encourage other Members and Global Partners to contribute. Now seeing this growing collection in person, it showcases the range and depth of TVET and the lifelong value of a career in skills.”

Global Partner, Festo provided a number of exhibits for the Museum, include the mesmerizing bionics installation which overlays animal movements with robotics to show the value of learning from nature and applying its principles to Industry 4.0. Michael Linn, Skills Competition Manager from WorldSkills Global Partner Festo, was looking forward to visiting the Museum and his first impression did not disappoint. He said, “Our exhibit looked very good in how it was presented. I recommend if you visit Shanghai, you go there to see how different countries and different Members have developed skills over the years. You see it all over the walls, the old photographs, and newspapers. It was really very interesting and impressive.”

Cathy Wang, CEO of VCOM – one of WorldSkills’ newest Global Partners – believes that the WorldSkills Museum will be a source of inspiration for young people across the world. She said, “Despite this being my third visit, I always discover something new, which speaks volumes about the Museum’s dynamic and evolving nature. It offers visitors a unique experience, making the rich history of vocational skills accessible and engaging through interactive exhibits and cutting-edge technology. It helps visitors appreciate the evolution of skills and understand the importance of vocational training in today’s job market.”

She continued, “Our involvement stems from a desire to enhance educational experiences through technology, making learning both accessible and immersive. For example, we proposed utilizing mixed reality to enable visitors to experience and interact with items as they were used centuries ago, and we donated a state-of-the-art simulation system for the Information Network Cabling exhibit. Our relationship with the Museum grows deeper with time. We believe it serves as a bridge, connecting the past with the future of vocational training, and continuously inspiring us to innovate and contribute more significantly.”

The WorldSkills Museum currently houses over 800 artifacts and draws on more than 100 immersive installations to bring the world of skills to life. It also has space for temporary exhibitions, currently dedicated to the intricate skills that lie behind ceramics. Both “Turning Ceramics Into Gold” and the WorldSkills Museum have been awarded Exhibitions of Excellence by Shanghai City.

Chris Humphries, President of WorldSkills International, experiences one of the interactive exhibits at the WorldSkills Musuem in May 2024.

Mark Callaghan, Director of Event Operations and WorldSkills Museum Project Director, was happy to finally share the Museum with so many Members and Partners. He said, “Countless people have contributed to the Museum but most of them from afar. Seeing these reactions today is a great sign that we have created something exciting and inspiring, that brings to life the power – and the promise – of skills. It is another important way we can connect and grow our community.”

After the tour, Members and Partners attended a dinner reception hosted by the WorldSkills Museum team who warmly welcomed all the guests to the Museum. Yang Jiaying, Director of MOHRSS, shared her hope that the “800 precious artifacts” in the Museum would help impress on visitors the importance of “skills leading the future for youth and adults alike.”

Chris Humphries, President of WorldSkills International, said the Museum was the result of “partnerships, friendship, generosity, and collaboration” noting that “the true wonder of the WorldSkills Museum is the people who helped create it”. He encouraged all the Members and Partners to see the Museum as a “catalyst for change” and a place to ”dream about the possibilities of what we can achieve over the next 75 years.”

For those Members and Partners who were fortunate to visit, they will now report back to their countries and regions about the impact of the Museum. For those unable to visit in person, watch out for a new website launching soon that will give people around the world a chance to experience the WorldSkills Museum’s magic.