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35th World Skills Competition


Who has heard of the World Skills Competition, also called Skills Oympics? It is
conducted every other year somewhere in the world.

I just returned from the 35th World Skills Competition in Montreal. An overwhelming
event: Over 600 young people under the age of 22 from 34 different countries
competed in 41 skill groups, each person in a separate shop with modern machinery,
all set up in the Olympic Stadium. Only one person from each country is allowed to
compete in each skill group.

Skill Group No. 27 was Jewelry. 14 countries competed. All competitors had to
fabricate the same Baguette, size about 2 inch, following a drawing, to an accuracy
of better than 0.1 mm (4 thousands of an inch). The competitors had 4 days of 6
hours each, or 24 hours total, to complete the job. 18k white and yellow gold was
supplied. The jewelry competitors used their own tools. While the piece was made to
be decorated by stones, stone setting was not required.

The US was not represented. The winners weRe: Gold Medal: Japan, Silver: Korea,
Bronze: Thailand.


    Who has heard of the World Skills Competition, also called Skills Oympics? It
is conducted every other year somewhere in the world. 

I am not impressed with this stuff. Jewelry is an art, not an athletic event, and
not a case of exactly executing the designs of an engineer or a draftsman. Teach
people to behave as efficient machines, then train the consumer to accept this as
good jewelry, then you can replace your people WITH machines. These young people
are in for a sad career. When they get fed up with what little the corporate
world offers them, they’ll go out into the world of the small entrepreneur, who is
also an excellent guerilla warrior, and they will find themselves in the sweat


Hey David, don’t be such a meany! With all due respect, I think
your view is just a little jaundiced. I can only speak for the
Australian apprentices who have entered and won in past years,
and they were all very nice human beings without a micron of
machine in their make-up.

Celeste Careedy, who won international silver a few years back
now has her own shop in a very posh part of Sydney, Australia,
and makes the most beautiful and unique precious jewellery.
Louise Dunning who won gold in Australia didn’t win in the
Montreal International, but she’s back in Australia bubbling over
with self confidence and genuine respect for those that did win.
Louise was one of my most original design students whose drawings
and jewellery were quite beautifully idiosyncratic. Not a hint
of a machine mentality in either of these two gifted young women.

What the Workskills challenge gave these two young women - and
their peers who competed with them in Australia - was a healthy
respect for sound technique as well as innovative design. It’s
not being “machine-like” to develop sound techniques upon which
to build and express one’s own personal vision.

Really, David, there are right ways and wrong ways of doing
things in every discipline, and the emphasis on working skills
(Workskills - get it?) is so that these young people can at least
get off to a reasonably efficient start in their working life.

I guess there will always be knockers and nay-sayers, but I know
power of good. If I hadn’t been so involved I guess its possible
that I may have been negative too. As it is I have to admit to a
little twinge of envy - I wish Workskills had been going forty
years ago when I was an apprentice jeweller.

Kind regards Dave,
Rex from Oz