Kudos to the Korean team“My father is a plumber and he has taught me that there is no limit in a profession as long as one loves what he is doing. My dream has been making the most wonderful pavilion on which people can rest peacefully,” said Jang Jae-yeon, who brought home a gold medal in carpentry from the WorldSkills Competition recently held in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, Oct. 15 to 18.
Eight young apprentices who represented South Korea won gold at the 44th championship of vocational skills known as the Skills Olympics after being pitted against 1,300 people from 59 nations and regions. Overall, Korea came in second on the medal tally with eight golds, eight silvers, eight bronzes and 16 medallions of excellence. They proved to be the best in a wide range of fields from high-tech mobile robotics, IT network systems administration, web design, prototype modeling and more traditional workmanship such as plastering, carpentry, floristry, plumbing, refrigeration and air conditioning and welding.
Until 2001, the scoreboard was totally concentrated on the gold medals. But all medals count now for Korea. Different countries have different approaches. Japan touts the number of gold medals, Italy the average points per vocational category, and Germany the overall medal count and scores of its team members. That is why both Korea and Brazil claimed they came first in the competition in Brazil two years ago. In this year’s race, the host announced a final ranking based on five indicators.
Korea has topped the medal tally 19 times out of 21 competitions since 1977. Our reputation is under threat by the fast ascent of the Chinese. Koreans entered the skills championship with their handiness in making clothes, shoes and watches in the 1980s. We excelled in metal work, plumbing and automobile making in the 1980s and 1990s. Lately, our young people are showing off mastery in IT and robotics as well as cooking and hairdressing, areas that had been dominated by Westerners.
We must not lose our position in skills and technology. With few natural resources, we must rely on our craftsmanship and manufacturing skills. Korea weathered global financial crises because of our manufacturing prowess in electronics, automobiles and ships. We offer sincere gratitude and congratulations to Team Korea.