Spectacular opening ceremony for EuroSkills 2016: Flag-waving, music and enthusiastic cheering marked last night’s official opening of EuroSkills 2016 – with 22 competitors in Team UK joining the parade of nations aiming to prove they are the best on the continent in their skill.

They were among 450 young people up to the age of 25 from 30 different countries who took part in the opening ceremony at the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre in Gothenburg ahead of three days of intense competition.

The event was opened by Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven  and will culminate in a medal ceremony on Saturday evening where Team UK will be hoping for podium finishes in disciplines from Bricklaying to Beauty, Cabinet Making to Cooking, Plumbing to Plastering, Web Design to Welding and Landscape Gardening to Heavy Vehicle Maintenance.

Mr Löfven took to the stage dressed as a welder – explaining to the audience that he was inspired to become a welder after seeing one in action.

He made a passionate speech on the need for more people to gain vocational qualifications across Europe. He praised the work of teachers and trainers and told the competitors they had an opportunity to become role models for others to follow by showing excellence in their skills.

“You are so needed in a world where the pace of change is constantly increasing,” he said. “The need for people striving to develop to be the most skilled and professional is greater than ever. The greatest threat to our economy is the shortage of people with vocational qualifications.

“My message to you all here today is; the world needs your pride, we need your hands, your drives, your dreams and we need you, as role models of the future.”

The Prime Minister was followed by the president of WorldSkills Europe, Hubert Romer, as well as participants taking the competitor and expert oaths, and  a concert of Swedish number ones.

WorldSkills UK, which runs the UK’s nationals competitions, selected, supported and prepared Team UK for the contest at EuroSkills – a timely litmus test to help focus on home grown skills provision – Brexit or no Brexit.Competitors have been through a testing series of regional and national competitions and a rigorous regime of intensive training before winning through to EuroSkills – Europe’s biggest skills competition which aims to improve the quality, status and attraction of vocational training.

More than 40,000 spectators are expected at the finals to get behind the national squads.

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