A team of 21 young vocational skills ambassadors will be representing South Africa at the WorldSkills International Skills competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil in August.

This global event will see Team South Africa competing in 19 skill categories and against more than 70 other countries to showcase their chosen trades.

WorldSkills International takes place every two years and hosts tens of thousands of skilled young people from around the world, accompanied by their coaches and mentors. The competition is an opportunity to demonstrate their talents in a public and test themselves against the most demanding international standards.

All participants must be between the ages of 18 and 22. The South African team is made up of the winners of the recently-held WorldSkills South Africa Competition that took place in Cape Town in January 2015.

WorldSkills South Africa aims to emphasise the key role that artisans play in the South African economy and to validate the artisanal sector. The competition is a reminder that a proper mastery of skills requires focus, training and dedication over time.

WSSA chair Raymond Patel explains: “We have a considerable talent pool of young artisans in South Africa, and the WorldSkills International competition is about celebrating that talent. The fact is, as a nation we simply do not have enough artisans. There are more jobs in the artisanal sector than there are candidates – and in a nation that is challenged by unemployment, it’s clear that we need to address this disconnect.”

The Department of Higher Education and Training, which formally established WorldSkills South Africa in April 2013, also sees the WorldSkills International Competition as a critically important initiative.

Deputy Minister of Higher Education Mduduzi Manana comments: “The DHER has declared 2014-2024 The Decade of the Artisan and have made it our business to ensure that there is a dramatic turnaround in youth involvement in this sector, and initiatives like WSSA and WorldSkills International are key in meeting that objective.”

Team South Africa will travel to Brazil to participate in the competition taking place from 11 to 16 August.