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Shanghai ready to host WorldSkills 2021

Simon Bartley (left), president of WorldSkills International, and David Hoey, its chief executive, observe a pastry chef at a renowned restaurant in downtown Yuyuan Garden make dumplings. China’s Shanghai is competing against Switzerland’s Basel to host the 46th WorldSkills competition. — All photographs by Zhang Chi

Simon Bartley (left), president of WorldSkills International, and David Hoey, its chief executive, observe a pastry chef at a renowned restaurant in downtown Yuyuan Garden make dumplings. China’s Shanghai is competing against Switzerland’s Basel to host the 46th WorldSkills competition. — All photographs by Zhang Chi

Simon Bartley meets Tang Tao, China’s vice-minister of human resources and social security, during his visit to Shanghai

Simon Bartley meets Tang Tao, China’s vice-minister of human resources and social security, during his visit to Shanghai

CHINA, a seven-year-old member of the WorldSkills International, wants to host the 46th WorldSkills Competition in Shanghai in 2021 — and the message from the government is clear – the country is ready.

Shanghai is up against Basel, Switzerland, and the decision on who will host the 2021 competition will be announced in October.

China, the world’s most populous country and its second largest economy, is striving to upgrade its manufacturing sector and is very much aware of the importance of preparing a more skilled workforce.

An estimated 800 million of the country’s population are “economically active” and two years ago the State Council published “Made in China 2025,” a strategy document calling for more technologically driven, innovative and environmentally friendly industrial development.

Furthermore, several documents have been issued since 2010 about improving vocational education and specific mid and long-term plans to build a highly skilled workforce.

Currently there are 165 million skilled workers in China and 45 million highly skilled workers. About 27 million students are studying at more than 12,000 vocational schools and colleges, spanning all skill categories.

From 2010 to 2015, the government’s financial contribution to vocational education doubled.

China was accepted as a WorldSkills International (WSI) member in 2010 and the WorldSkills Competition has played a major role in the development of the country’s vocational education, which integrates standards of the competition into education programs and various domestic skill competitions.

China’s successes in the competition has seen its participants receive much media attention.

Already 86 training centers that use pedagogical methods generated from the competition that put practice first have been set up around the country. It is planned to open more of them in less developed areas, as young participants from China make a growing impression at the competition.

China made its debut at the competition in 2011, when six participants competed in London 2011 in six skill sectors.

In 2015, 32 participants traveled to San Paolo, Brazil, to compete at 29 skills.

China’s representatives won five gold medals in Brazil, six silver and four bronze — its best year so far. For this year’s competition, which will be held in Abu Dhabi in October, China will send 47 participants.

Through its participation in the past three editions of the competition, China has also built up a growing team of competent technical experts, translators and juries. As a result China is now capable of hosting the competition on its own.

Zhang Lixin, director of the Professional Capacity Building Department, which comes under China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said at a press conference in Shanghai on March 29 that bringing the competition to China would created a win-win scenario.

“Hundreds of thousands of Chinese audiences, especially teenagers among them, will be inspired by the excellence of the participants of the competition, while the competition itself will for the first time have a big exposure to this part of the world,” he said.

Shanghai, one of the most developed and cosmopolitan of China’s cities, with 24 million residents, is at the forefront of the country’s industrialization story.

This ambitious city is perfectly placed to host the WorldSkills Competition 2021.

In the 1980s, Shanghai was renowned for its assembly lines that were producing high-quality sewing machines, TV sets, bicycles and watches. Now the city is gathering manufacturers of high-tech products under its roof — such as cars, marine equipment and planes.

With a rich experience in holding large-scale international events, such as the World Expo 2010 and the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games, Shanghai has the experience and the capacity to host the 2021 competition.

The huge National Exhibition and Convention Center (NECC), is proposed as the venue if the city is chosen to host the competition.

With an exhibition space of 500,000 square meters, it can cater for up to 400,000 visitors every day. The average daily number of visitors to the competition is estimated to be 60,000 to 70,000.

The NECC is located next to Hongqiao Internationa Airport and is easily accessed by the city’s Metro system. It also has excellent road infrastructure to Pudong International Airport, Shanghai’s other airport.

More than 100 airlines with destinations in 255 cities operate regular flights from Shanghai, and participants from 33 WSI member countries can find direct flights to the city from their home countries.

The number of hotel rooms within 8 kilometers of the NECC will rise to 5,300 from the current 4,100 by 2021, and the total number of hotel rooms in three administrative districts around the venue is currently 24,000.

Zhao Zhuping, head of Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, said the 2021 edition of the competition would be likely to attract at least 20,000 contestants, coaches, represenatatives, sponsors and other participants. An estimated 600,000 people will visit the weeklong competition.

Medical and first aid services near the NECC will be significantly reinforced by 2020 when the Shanghai New Hongqiao International Medical Center, which encompasses multiple medical institutions, is scheduled to open. The government said that the new medical center would ensure a “green channel” for delegations.

The suggested venues to hold the opening and closing ceremonies of the competition are already in place.

The Mercedes-Benz Arena, located in the former Expo park and visited by 2 million people during Expo 2010, has 18,000 seats. The Oriental Sports Center, which has hosted top-level world swimming and skating competitions, is a second ideal location for the competition.

Shanghai has since 2012 hosted a qualification competition to select participants to represent China on the WorldSkills Competition every two years, together with a dozen cities in other parts of the country.

Shanghai’s competition has been applauded by the WSI for engaging the public and encouraging people to try their hands at some skills, using the format of the competition. Last year, about 30,000 visitors in Shanghai watched the competition and took part in interactive activities alongside.

In June, the first China International Skill Competition will be held in Shanghai and in neighboring Suzhou city.

The occasion will be a touchstone of the city’s preparedness for the WorldSkills Competition.

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