WorldSkills competition is an advertising of blue-collar occupations. The world championship, or "Labor Olympics", under the title WorldSkills Belarus 2016 was held in Minsk this week. It is no coincidence that Belarus hosted it! Our country has maintained a system of vocational training and continues to train highly skilled workers. Our correspondent Ilona Volynets found out the secrets of Belarusian vocational education.
The Voronovich brothers are forging their "iron" business in this workshop with an adjacent office. They are bosses for themselves. Defiant metal turns into works of art in their skillful hands. Both are qualified welders.
A college gave us the foundation. The professions of a welder or an electrician which one can get in vocational schools and colleges will always meet demand. You will always have money.
Many vocational schools have turned into colleges. Now Belarus has about 150 of them. This Vileika college has a secret of professional training. The theory is reinforced by practice. Hairdressers practice on... real clients. A beauty salon is working on the basis of the college. Future chefs welcome us in a local cafe. A service station is right next to the class where mechanics are trained.
Igor Kitikov, Director of Vileika State College:
We provide on-site services. The students make things and earn money. This teaches them to be thrifty and enterprising. Carpenters make windows or doors and sell them.
Vocational education system was established on the territory of Belarus 75 years ago. Belarus is the only former Soviet country to have maintained a system allowing training highly qualified specialists.
Lithuanian experts from the Center for Development of Qualifications and Vocational Training say Belarusian vocational education has great support from the state and note Lithuania has something to learn from in Belarus.
There is a joke in social networks: "Surprise your university: go to work according to your specialty!" In the 1990s, everyone rushed to learn economics and law and then it turned out that there was nowhere to go for so many of them. But electricians, plumbers, and tilers are always needed.
Anastasia Fetsi, head of Operations Department, European Training Foundation:
Now in Europe, there is no such trend when everyone wants to be exclusively lawyers, doctors or teachers. Today, more and more young people are choosing blue-collar jobs. And it is pragmatic, because you know you will always have a job.
The world lacks qualified personnel. The international association of WorldSkills International has been defending the prestige of vocational education for decades. Its head Simon Bartley arrived in Belarus and met with the Belarus President. The British had long wanted to meet with Alexander Lukashenko.
After all, the Belarusian leader once personally insisted on keeping domestic vocational training system.
Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
I must say that Belarus is the only country in the post-Soviet space and, perhaps, in Eastern Europe, that gives vocational training so much attention. Today, the former Soviet Union republics are asking us to help them train staff for blue-collar jobs, because this branch of educational system was destroyed there after the Soviet era. Belarus is an exemplary country in terms of vocational education development.
WorldSkills is dubbed Labor Olympics. Belarus participates in the contest for only the second time. But our golden hands already took gold. In fashion design, Belarusian Olga Zakrevskaya is the first in Europe and 9th in the world.
Olga Zakrevskaya, winner of the WorldSkills championship, student of Minsk State Vocational and Technical College of Sewing:
When I planned to go to college, I thought that I was going to go abroad later. But now I realize that our education is at a decent level. I dream of making my own collection of products so that my brand is distinctive. I would like to use only Belarusian materials.
This is a workshop for the production of automotive parts. Workers are not wearing white shirts of course, but look just as good as office clerks.
Semen Mishutkin, machine setup man, Minsk Tractor Works:
You have to work hard to get dirty. I work in a shirt, virtually like in an office. It remains clean throughout the day.
Ilona Volynets, correspondent:
British researchers have named the 300 jobs in which man will soon be replaced by robots. It is surprising that journalists are at the top of the list. Just imagine: a robot is reporting from the scene! In general, it's hard to believe. However, anything can happen. Maybe I will learn a new profession, too?
Technologies are developing rapidly. Machinery is replacing man in the dirtiest parts of the cycle. But the world still needs builders, sellers, cooks, plumbers and more than a dozen blue-collar occupations. Be sure that high-class workers will not become unemployed even in 50 years!