Singapore bags two gold medals at global skills competition

Fazira Zulkifli, 21, from Nanyang Polytechnic competes in the Health and Social Care skill area. PHOTO: INSTITUTE OF TECHNICAL EDUCATION
Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung visits competitors at the event. PHOTO: INSTITUTE OF TECHNICAL EDUCATION

ABU DHABI - In about 20 hours over four days, 21-year-old Ng Jun Xuan had to design, create and animate a 3D game character and an object.

The third-year digital game art and design student at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) did so well he beat eight others from around the world to win gold in the 3D digital game art category at the biennial WorldSkills international competition.

It was one of two gold medals for Singapore at the global competition of vocational skills which is being held in Abu Dhabi.

Temasek Polytechnic logistics and operations management graduate Olivia Low, 20, was the other gold winner, emerging top among four in the freight forwarding contest.

The Singapore team also won three bronze medals and eight medallions of excellence.

China emerged top with 30 medals, half of which were gold, while Switzerland was in second place with 11 golds among its 20 medals.

Since last Sunday (Oct 15), 21 young people from Singapore's polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) had been competing at WorldSkills, dubbed the "Youth Olympics of Skills". It featured a record 1,300 or so competitors from 59 countries and regions.

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From as early as last year, they have been going through months of rigorous training to prepare for the contest, which featured 51 skill areas in total.

Singapore's golds came in newly introduced skill areas, which have been identified as fields most likely to be in demand in the future economy.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Keon Ho, 20, competing in Industrial Control. PHOTO: INSTITUTE OF TECHNICAL EDUCATION

The three bronze medals were won in health and social care, IT network systems administration and information network cabling.

The winners in each respective category were Fazira Zulkifli, 21, and Li Kangli, 19 from NYP; and Singapore Polytechnic graduate Andrew Tan, 20.

The Singapore contingent also picked up eight medallions of excellence.

Nanyang Polytechnic graduate Low Kin Lin, 21, who won a medallion of excellence for graphic design techbology, with her parents at the closing ceremony of WorldSkills 2017. ST PHOTO: YUEN SIN

These were won in trades such as restaurant service, graphic design technology, and electronics.

In the past two contests in 2015 and 2013, Singapore won 17 and 14 awards respectively.

Singapore failed to earn gold in 2015, the only time that happened since the Republic began taking part in 1995.

Singapore Polytechnic student Andrew Tan, 20, competes in the Information Network Cabling skill area. PHOTO: INSTITUTE OF TECHNICAL EDUCATION

At the announcement of the results on Thursday (Oct 19), Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung said that he was "very happy" with Singapore's performance, adding that he hopes that the competition can improve awareness of vocational trades, and how they are perceived.

He is the first Singapore education minister to visit the international WorldSkills competition.

The 13 award winners will also be given cash prizes from SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG).

Nanyang Polytechnic student Rachel Ho, 20, competes in the CNC Turning skill area. PHOTO: INSTITUTE OF TECHNICAL EDUCATION

Gold winners get $20,000. For bronze medallists, the prize is $5,000, and those who receive medallions for excellence get $1,000.

Mr Ng said that he did not expect to do so well in the contest. "I thought I will get a medallion, or at most a bronze." For the competition, he was tasked to design and animate a shark that enjoys eating for a game, and came up with a design for a chubby pink shark.

He plans to treat the rest of the Singapore contingent to a meal with his prize money, and "spend the remaining wisely."

His schoolmate, Mr Li, said: "I hope to help to train the next batch of contestants so that we can retain our medal in this category."

Singapore Polytechnic student Dylan Lim, 20, competes in the Electronics skill area. PHOTO: INSTITUTE OF TECHNICAL EDUCATION

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