Singapore bags two golds at 'Olympics of Skills'

Nursing graduate Fazira Zulkifli from Nanyang Polytechnic won a bronze medal in the health and social care category at the WorldSkills international competition held in Abu Dhabi. Twenty-one young people from Singapore's polytechnics and the Institut
Nursing graduate Fazira Zulkifli from Nanyang Polytechnic won a bronze medal in the health and social care category at the WorldSkills international competition held in Abu Dhabi. Twenty-one young people from Singapore's polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education took part in the contest, across 19 categories.PHOTO: INSTITUTE OF TECHNICAL EDUCATION

Republic also wins three bronzes and eight medallions of excellence in global contest

In about 20 hours over four days, 21-year-old Ng Jun Xuan had to design, create and animate 3D game characters and objects.

The third-year digital game art and design student from 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 was 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 Sunday, 21 young people from Singapore's polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education 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.

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

The Singapore contingent took part in 19 categories.

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.

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 Ms Fazira Zulkifli, 21, Mr Li Kangli, 19, both from NYP, and Singapore Polytechnic graduate Andrew Tan, 20.

The eight medallions of excellence 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 has happened since the Republic began taking part in 1995.

At the announcement of the results yesterday, Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung said he was "very happy" with Singapore's performance, adding that he hopes 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.

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore bags two golds at 'Olympics of Skills''. Print Edition | Subscribe