It’s been all over the world and even out of this world. Now, following a ceremony in Chinese Taipei on 6 August, the international leg of the WorldSkills Flag Relay has been completed. The flag has now returned to Russia, where it was the 'guest of honour' at the Opening Ceremony of the WorldSkills Russia National Competition at Sakhalin Island in the far east of the country.
By the time it has completed the journey to Kazan next August, the WorldSkills Flag will have made the equivalent of nearly three trips around the globe.
After the official handover at the Closing Ceremony for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017, the Flag travelled to Sochi in Russia, with Olga Golodets, the then Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation and Chairperson of the Organizing Committee. She promised “Real Russian hospitality,” adding “together we will inspire a generation, developing quality of labour and quality of life for all.”
But before it could begin its terrestrial adventure, the Flag Relay had to make a slight detour - straight up for 400 kilometres to the International Space Station.
On 17 December 2017, the Flag joined the crew of a Soyuz space craft as it blasted into orbit from the famous Baikonur Cosmodrome.
The WorldSkills flag was launched into space in December 2017. Anton Shkaplerov and Alexander Misurkin addressed the participants of the 45th WorldSkills Competition, which will take place in Kazan from 22-27 August 2019.
Two months later after its trip to space, and back on Earth, the Flag began its international journey in Madrid this March, in the city where the WorldSkills story began in 1950.
It was in the Spanish capital where barely a dozen Competitors took part in the first competition, that the WorldSkills movement was launched. There are now an astonishing 79 Member countries and regions embracing the life-changing message of vocational skills and training for the young people of the world.
For the first part of the relay, the Flag has been on a journey to mark every previous WorldSkills Competition, a total of 44 to date.
It was sent on its way at the Institute Virgen de la Paloma, the site of that first Competition, watched by the current generation of students and some of those who took part more than 60 years ago.
For the last six months, the Flag Relay has been journeying through past WorldSkills Competitions, preserving the past to create a new tradition, but also reaching out with a strong message for today’s young people and prospective employers of the value of vocational skills for a thriving economy and a prosperous future.
The 100,000 kilometre journey though 21 countries and regions on five continents is a powerful reminder of the rich history of WorldSkills and the sheer scale of its reach, now calculated in the billions.
Like the Competition, the Flag Relay started in Europe, moving from Madrid to Barcelona then to Duisberg, to mark the three German events, including Munich in 1973 and Leipzig 2013.