WorldSkills movement participant countries share practices and plans for organizing online and hybrid competitions

Last week saw another meeting of the WorldSkills International working group, which discussed online solutions for the training and assessment of professional skills. The session was chaired by Ekaterina Loshkareva, a member of the WorldSkills International Board of Directors, Deputy Director-General of the Agency of the Development of Professional Skills (WorldSkills Russia) for research and development in education. This time around, the meeting focused on online and hybrid WorldSkills competitions.

Representatives of 21 countries participating in the global movement took part in the meeting. Colleagues from Canada, Chile, Finland, India, Portugal and Russia presented their cases and shared practices and approaches to organizing competitions in online and hybrid formats. They also discussed the key conclusions they drew from these competitions. In addition, meeting participants discussed which solutions developed can continue to be employed after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. 

Russia and Chile talked about their experience in holding competitions in 2020. Thus, Andrey Krukov, deputy chief technical officer for the Russian national WorldSkills team, presented key components and methodologies for the organization of competitions in a remote format based on the experience of WorldSkills Russia. During the period of global challenge, Russia last year became one of the first countries to develop and test new technologies and solutions for this style of events.

Claudia Gálvez, a representative of WorldSkills Chile, talked about Chile's experience in adapting to the new reality under pandemic conditions, as well as the preparations for the holding of the first online competitions, which included 17 skills, made use of 7 simulators, and had more than 200 participants. The online stream was viewed by more than 3,900 users on the official WorldSkills Chile YouTube channel, with 3,100 more users viewing it via the organization's official website.

Vesa Itola of Skills Finland spoke with the audience about the selection competition for the national finals, which was held in May and comprised of 46 skills. He noted that given the restrictions on movement within the country, selection was held at educational facilities, which made it possible to significantly increase the number of participants. A total of 1,560 people applied to take part, after which 560 qualifying events were held rather than the standard 100. 

WorldSkills India's Jaikant Singh talked about the three selection stages for the national finals in India in which 200,000 students took part in state-level selection competitions. Of those, only 500 will advance to the finals. Participants first must pass a test in the skill they selected, then they need to solve a case in a distributed format, and after that demonstrate their practical acumen at the skill at special skills centres. 

Taking into account the European Strategy for the development of digital education in 2021– 2027, the reconfiguration of education in the digital age, the wide adoption of digital technologies which are increasingly serving as the core tool in the national development strategy, colleagues from Skills Portugal have decided to hold the Digital Skills Portugal 2021 competition this year. Over a period of three weeks, 360 competitors aged 18–35 (unlike the usual 18–22) will compete in 18 skills.

Skills Canada representatives, who, like WorldSkills Russia, were among the first last year to organize a national online competition, are now preparing for the national competition in 2021. Colleagues noted that despite their desire to go back to the traditional format, it is their view that online or hybrid format can be used to host selection events, while a number of the new assessment tools can be utilised in educational and training process of competitors. 

The WorldSkills International Working Group for online solutions in education and assessment of professional skills has held regular meetings since June 2020 to share experiences and unique tools. The meetings have allowed participants to gain new insights that can later be adapted and used at the national level, namely for the preparation and holding of competitions along with training offered by educational facilities.