WorldSkills Expert Focus

The previous WorldSkills international competition, WorldSkills São Paulo 2015, was the biggest yet and left an indelible legacy on the vocational education and training sector in Brazil. In part six of our Plumbing and Heating Expert Focus series, we bid a warm "bom dia" to an inspirational lady who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes of the Brazilian skills competition organization for many years. It's a pleasure to meet you ...

 

CELIA LEITAO (BR)

I work for SENAI – the National Service of Industrial Training – in Brasília, the capital of Brazil. SENAI schools cover the industries in many skills, such as the construction industry, food, engineering, and information technology, among others. There are hundreds of schools! – over 800 mobile and fixed operational units throughout the country. Today, they receive more than 2.5 million applications for around 3,000 courses, every year. I live in Brasília, and have worked with SENAI for about 18 years. The system in Brasília is a denomination of the FIBRA System, which is a professional school for vocational training.


Top of the class... Celia at work in SENAI, Brasília.

Today, I see many more women work in the areas of construction and engineering. I remember when I started out... and that was a long time ago!... I was the only female in my class and it was so difficult. I was born in Curitiba, in the state of Paraná. I grew up in this region, in southern Brazil, which is a part of the country with a large Japanese, German, and Italian population.

I went to engineering university; The Federal University of Technology, Paraná. This a public institution, owned by the federal government, with 13 campuses. The institution's origins are as an elementary school for craftsmen, and it was founded in 1909. It officially became a University of Technology in 2005. 

So, at the time I studied there, I remember there being a lot of Japanese students at the university, and me! I found that these different communities were really driving forward new areas of industry in Brazil … farming, electrical engineering and civil engineering. It was a very interesting place to grow up and then study in.


Together with the team of WorldSkills Brazil Experts (left) and international Plumbing and Heating Experts from more than 25 different countries (right) at WorldSkills São Paulo 2015.

My WorldSkills journey started in 2009. Previous to this, I had been involved as an Expert with national competitions in Brazil ever since 2001. Wall and Floor Tiling was my original area of expertise, but for WorldSkills Calgary 2009 I was invited to become Plumbing and Heating Expert instead. It was a new challenge for me, but as I understood many things about construction I was happy to take on the role, and things have developed from there. All through this journey, my goal has been to try improve skills in my school and in my country.


Working as Expert with Special Responsibility for Media at WorldSkills São Paulo 2015.

At the last WorldSkills competition I was assigned an "ESR" role — an Expert with Special Responsibility by our Chief Expert, Markus Niederer. Initially I wanted to decline, because I prefer to work on the technical aspects of the competition … however, I took on the role, which was to connect with the media around our skill area. This was the first time I had been assigned a role like this. I must admit that I found it tough, not only because I think I am very shy … but because generating media interest in plumbing and heating is a not an easy task! On a daily basis, at the competition, I found that the main reason media visited our skill area was to speak with specific competitors, for example those representing a particular country or region. I'm not sure if this coverage did more to further the promotion of the Plumbing and Heating skill area as a whole… for example, highlighting it as a professional career choice or opportunity for young men and young women, or showcasing the skills needed and technologies involved in installation, drawing, and other abilities like that. So I think this promotional side is something we need to look at, and can improve.


Brazilian Plumbing and Heating competitor Luciano Barbosa at work during training preparation for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017.

The Brazilian Plumbing and Heating competitor-in-training for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 is Luciano Barbosa. He is 21 years old and from Minas Gerais, another state in Brazil. Each month Luciano and I work together for 15 days in Brasília, and then he returns to Minas Gerais with a training plan that is continued by a local teacher. From July his training procedure will increase to 21 days in Brasília followed by one week back at the base school. We continue to check the training plan and make adjustments. He is doing well … improving each day.


With Luciano Barbosa during a recent training visit to the WorldSkills Russia national championships in Krasnodar, May 2017.

Luciano recently experienced his first-ever international competition: we travelled to Krasnodar in Russia, in May, to take part in the WorldSkills Russia national championship. One of the biggest challenges for him was managing the emotional and psychological pressures of competing and performing at international level. When you are young, this can be hard. Technical training is one thing, but emotional pressure is another. But I think this type of experience is vital to help the competitor improve their abilities in different competitive environments.

The international experience teaches us that while plumbing technologies are different around the world, so too are cultures and languages. I believe workshop opportunities like this one, in the lead-up to WorldSkills competitions, really help Experts better align to reach higher levels of collaboration. This results in better understanding, better competitor preparation, and better competitions!


Enjoying a meal with international Experts from Plumbing and Heating plus other Building and Construction sector skills during the WorldSkills Russia national championships in Krasnodar, May 2017.

I think that today it is very, very important we look at the sustainability of our competitions.  During our recent visit to Russia, we Experts talked about sustainability a lot. When we finish competitions, there is a lot of waste. We talked about how we might be able to reuse our future Plumbing and Heating Test Projects, and work with competitors and other members of the local community, sponsors, etc. to install and use these Test Projects in another location after a competition. There are some good ideas about what could happen in Russia, and it has given me further intention to follow up similar situations in Brazil. The world revolves around sustainability … I am very interested in this area.


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