Cool Kids in Calgary

 PM E-Newsletter

 Even in these poor economic times, there are problems that simply will not go away. Specifically, I’m talking about the shortage of skilled workers for manufacturing and many other so called trades. Apparently, this problem is not only limited to the United States. It’s global.

Earlier this month I was invited to attend the WorldSkills Competition in Calgary Alberta. As I’d never been to Calgary and the competition was something I knew little about, off I went. I’m glad I did.

For 4 days, 900 competitors from 51 different countries compete simultaneously in 45 skill categories, including CNC turning and milling. These competitors were winners in their respective skill categories held in each participating nation. Our national organization is Skills USA. Every 2 years, the national winners all gather to compete internationally with their peers.

WorldSkills International began in 1950 in Spain. It was organized to encourage young people to pursue careers in the trades. Even then, the shortage of skilled workers was apparent. Since then biennial competitions have been held around the world with the next edition scheduled in London England, in 2011.

The event was held at the Calgary Stampede Park and with all those 17 to 25 year olds as well as thousands of students bused in to see the competitors, it was a high energy environment. And with attendance in the 150,000 range this event is among the biggest deals I never heard of. I had heard of Skills USA, which holds its national competition in Kansas City each year, but the international arm was new to me. Possibly that’s because the WorldSkills Competition has only been held once in the U.S.—1981 in Atlanta.

I and several other colleagues learned about WorldSkills from Mori Seiki. The company is a major supporter of the competition providing the CNC turning and milling skills with 25 brand new machine tools. Mastercam and Sandvik are also sponsors.

Like the weather, everyone complains about the skilled worker shortage but nobody does anything about it. These companies, in our field, and many others in different trades are doing something about it through the WorldSkills organization. Now I know, and now you know.

Learn about the international group or find out more about our domestic organization.