This year’s WorldSkills host, Russia, is likely to do well in the competition. But the country’s path to success was not a smooth one to begin with.
The nation’s first competition as a team was in 2013 in Leipzig, Germany. They came 33rd, with no medals. Now, they’re among the fiercest competitors in the world.
At last year’s EuroSkills, they came first, winning nine golds, eight silvers and two bronzes. The transformation took just five years. So, how did they do it? Ekaterina Loshkareva, the country’s official WorldSkills delegate, told Tes in 2018 that 2013’s poor result was like a “cold shower”.
They had thought they were training the best of the best. Russia’s government sprang into action, radically overhauling the nation’s skills system and placing the international standards at its heart.
“They became the national standard,” Loshkareva said. “We introduced national training centres, where trainers and students study excellence. We then started [national] competitions in line with WorldSkills competitions.”
She and her colleagues prepare competitors, as Team UK does, with a programme of domestic competitions and intensive training, all of which is government-funded. Some are sent to train in South Korea – a titan of the competition – while others train at home.
It’s not just medals that the members of Team Russia walk away with – cash prizes are also on offer. Loshkareva refused to reveal the exact sums on offer, but it’s believed that tens of thousands of pounds are given to top performers.
When they leave the arena of WorldSkills, Russian competitors are given help in finding work – usually in industry, as entrepreneurs or in training the next generation of competitors. Will its competitors match their EuroSkills victory on home soil? They’re certainly a good bet.