The official opening ceremony in Madrid welcomed a parade of the flags of all 44 previous WorldSkills Competitions with the participation of former Competitors and young volunteers — students of Institute of Secondary Education Virgen de la Paloma where the first WorldSkills Competition was held.
The ceremony also featured a presentation of the upcoming WorldSkills Kazan 2019, which will take place in the capital of Tatarstan in August next year. WorldSkills Competitions bring together the best professionals around the world to compete for the title of WorldSkills Champion in more than 50 Skills.
Present at the event were President of WorldSkills, Simon Bartley, Director General of the Young Professionals (WorldSkills Russia) Union, Robert Urazov, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sport of the Republic of Tatarstan, Vladimir Leonov, Minister of Education, Youth and Sport of the Region of Madrid, Rafael van Grieken, State Secretary for Education, Vocational Training and Universities, Marcial Marín Hellín, and Paloma Vidal, a daughter of Albert Vidal, the founder of the WorldSkills global movement.
"A unique event happened here, in Virgen de la Paloma Institute, in 1950," said Simon Bartley. "Now, WorldSkills has grown into a global movement. Now, close to 70 years since international skills competitions began our Members cover more than three quarters of the world’s population. It is symbolic that we came back to the city of the first Competition to give start to the WorldSkills Flag Relay."
Minister of Youth Affairs and Sport of the Republic of Tatarstan Vladimir Leonov said, "Today together with representatives of WorldSkills International, WorldSkills Spain, and Young Professionals Union we are starting the WorldSkills Flag Relay, we present our Competition, Russia, and Kazan as the capital of the forthcoming event to remind that this is very important and relevant to us. This is a new event for our country, nevertheless, I am sure, this is our future, as it is a real sector of the economy, real people, skills and knowledge. Thanks to bringing any local standards in line with international best practice, it is possible for every young person, who has mastered a certain skill, to find a job in any country. And it works both ways. We also focus on the international market and want to welcome skilled foreign specialists in our country. An impressive base is being elaborated right now for this purpose."
The WorldSkills Flag Relay kicked off last year. With all the honours and celebrations, the Flag was handed over to Kazan, the host city of the WorldSkills Competition 2019, during the Closing Ceremony of WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017. After that it was delivered to Sochi and officially transferred to the Flag Relay project. In December 2017, the Flag flew to the International Space Station(ISS), where it spent more than two months. In February 2018, the WorldSkills Flag returned to Earth on board the Soyuz MS-07 spaceship carrying Anton Shkaplerov, Russian cosmonaut from the GCTC, Norishige Kanai, JAXA astronaut from Japan, and Scott David Tingle, NASA astronaut from the USA.
“The fact that the crew is international is very symbolic. The WorldSkills ideas are also international. Goals and objectives of the movement are not restricted by borders of one or several countries, they are global. On the ISS, the flag got charged with space energy, energy of strong and brave people, of real professionals who operate the station on Earth and in space,” said Robert Urazov. "Meanwhile, we will continue our preparation for the WorldSkills Kazan 2019. We promise that this competition will be special.”
After the ceremony the Flag will start its new journey. During 5 months, it will visit all 20 countries that have ever taken part in the WorldSkills Competitions. The Flag will visit such countries as Germany, Ireland, the USA, Belgium, South Korea, the UAE, Chinese Taipei, Finland, Australia, Canada, Portugal, Switzerland, Brazil, Austria, Italy, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, Japan.
“The Flag Relay is a tribute to the memory of the WorldSkills Competitions hosted in these countries. These events are also essential in terms of attracting young people’s attention to the importance of vocational choice and increase of professional experise,” the Director General of WorldSkills Russia summed up.
After the international leg, the WorldSkills Flag will travel to the 85 regions of Russia, including 43 municipal districts and 2 cities of the Republic of Tatarstan. The Flag will arrive in Kazan on the day of the WorldSkills Kazan 2019 Opening Ceremony, August 22.
Media Department of Directorate for Sports and Social Projects