SINGAPORE - The autonomous universities in Singapore will, for the first time, take part in the WorldSkills Singapore (WSS) competition this year alongside students from the Institute of Technical Education and polytechnics, as part of an expansion of the event.
The three universities are Singapore Institute of Technology, Singapore Management University and National University of Singapore.
The number of skill areas that participants will compete in during the three-day biennial competition will also be increased by nine, to 26.
These changes were announced by Education Minister Ong Ye Kung at the launch of the competition's 13th edition at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre on Thursday (July 5).
"This year's WorldSkills Singapore is the largest in history. It will bring together close to 250 finalists to compete in 26 skill areas, including new categories such as cyber security," he said.
This year's theme is "Our Skills, Our Future" and involves 150 more participants than the 2016 edition.
The new areas, such as water technology and rapid transit systems, had been added after being identified as emerging and in-demand skills key to Singapore's future economy.
"We moved the competition out of ITE to where we are today, at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre," said Mr Ong.
The change aims to make the competition more accessible to a wider public audience.
Mr Ong cited Singapore's 25 gold medals at the international WorldSkills competition as evidence of the standard of Singapore youth's ability and dedication.
"When I was at the WorldSkills Competition in Abu Dhabi last year, our competitors shared with me how they had spent nine months preparing for the competition, practising six to eight hours almost every day."
He also introduced a new WorldSkills Singapore Ambassador scheme to recognise past competitors who have gone on to pursue excellence in their fields.
These include owner of a boutique web design agency Amalina Zakaria, who won gold in WSS 2008 in Web design and a Medallion of Excellence in the international WorldSkills competition in 2009; and Ms Catherine Boey, a former ITE student who won gold in WorldSkills competition 2013 in beauty therapy and is currently a lecturer at her alma mater.
The WSS 2018 will be used to give secondary school students education and career guidance.
"In fact, 12,000 secondary school students will be exploring the interactive booths, and trying the hands-on activities over the next few days," said Mr Ong.
There will also be more than 30 free workshops across five industry clusters for adults on Saturday, including mobile phone photography, sushi making, fabric art making and digital animation creation.
Mr Ng Cher Pong, chairman of WSS Council and chief executive of SkillsFuture Singapore, said: "With the expanded scope of WSS 2018, it is a key platform to raise the profile of skills mastery in Singapore, and highlight the role of skills in our economic transformation. The strong support from the industry also reflects the growing importance that they attach to the development and promotion of skills."
WSS 2018 winners may be chosen to represent Singapore at the Asean Skills Competition in Bangkok next month, and the international WorldSkills competition in Kazan, Russia, in August next year.
Winners of the gold, silver and bronze medals will also win $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 each.
They will receive their prizes from Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Education and Trade and Industry, at the closing ceremony next Tuesday.
For more information, go to www.worldskills.sg/workshops
Correction note: An earlier version of this story said that there were six autonomous universities involved and that Singapore had won 35 gold medals at the international level. An ITE spokesman has clarified that there were actually only three autonomous universities involved, while MOE has said that Singapore had actually won only 25 gold medals at the international level and that the previous number given by it was incorrect.