Professional Training

IFT lecturers train Macao contestants for WorldSkills contest

WorldSkills contestant Ms. Choi Ka Kei (right) and her reserve Lei Ka Hei (left) undergoing training in Paris, accompanied by IFT Lecturer Mr. David Wiley (centre left)

中文摘要 / Summary in Chinese

IFT teaching staff are training some of the representatives of Macao in the forthcoming WorldSkills Competition. The international event, held every 2 years, is the world’s biggest vocational education and skills tournament.

The competition this year is the 45th. It will be held from 22 to 27 August in Kazan, in Russia. More than 1,400 contestants, representing 66 different parts of the world, are expected to vie to show who is best in each of 56 different skills categories. Team Macao will comprise 17 contestants, who will show off their respective mastery of 16 different sets of skills.

The tournament is mainly for contestants aged 22 or younger, but the age limit in some categories of skills is 25. Gold, silver or bronze medals are awarded to the contestants with the 3 highest scores in each category. Contestants scoring 700 or more points out of a maximum of 800 are awarded medallions of excellence.

IFT, in collaboration with the Macao Labour Affairs Bureau, serves as the training centre for the Macao contestants in 4 of the skills categories: the bakery, restaurant service, patisserie and confectionery, and cooking contests. The coaching includes intensive training outside Macao.

IFT Lecturer Mr. David Wiley is training Ms. Choi Ka Kei, a member of the staff of the Wynn Palace resort, who will compete in the WorldSkills Competition bakery contest. Ms. Choi gained her place in the competition by winning the Macao heats.

The Team Macao reserve in the bakery contest is Lei Ka Hei. Ka Hei is a Year 2 student taking the IFT programme leading to a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts Management. He receives the same training as Ms. Choi, so he can replace her if she is unable to compete for any reason.

Mr. Wiley, Ms. Choi and Ka Hei visited Paris in France between 16 and 28 June for intensive training. As part of her preparation for the WorldSkills Competition, Ms. Choi also entered the first Belt and Road International Skills Competition, held in the Mainland Chinese city of Chongqing in May. Mr. Wiley accompanied her.

Mr. Wiley regards competing in the WorldSkills Competition as challenging. “Judges will look at everything, not only at the product you can make,” he says. The scores include points for time management and for keeping the workstation clean and tidy while baking.

Mr. Wiley says training for the competition is intense and occasionally stressful. But the bakery contest can help the contestants decide whether baking is really what they wish to pursue a career in, he says.

Ms. Choi acknowledges that she was under pressure to perform well in the Belt and Road International Skills Competition. Looking ahead to the WorldSkills Competition, she says: “I just want to enjoy both the competition and the opportunity to make new friends and learn new things.”

Ka Hei, the reserve, advises other IFT students to enter skills competitions, as they are good opportunities to learn. He says that even if he never gets to Russia to compete in WorldSkills, he has benefited from the experience so far. “I have learnt a lot and I enjoyed the training process,” he says.

Attitude matters

IFT Regent for Restaurant and Bar Courses Mr. Miguel Oliveira is helping Ms. Lei Ka Kei prepare to complete in the WorldSkills Competition restaurant service contest. Ms. Lei works at the Wynn Palace resort. She competed in the restaurant service contest of the Belt and Road International Skills Competition in May, winning a medallion of excellence there.

Mr. Oliveira and Ms. Lei were in Rome, Italy from 15 to 23 June for intensive training, along with the Team Macao reserve in the restaurant service contest, Si Tou Weng Ian. Weng Ian is a Year 2 student taking the IFT programme leading to a bachelor’s degree in Tourism Event Management.

The WorldSkills Competition restaurant service contest tests a wide range of technical abilities, from tending bar to serving at banquets. Mr. Oliveira says: “The competition basically involves everything you can find during a customer contact in the field of food and beverage service, including preparing salads and cocktails, flambéing dishes and doing fruit carving.”

Mr. Oliveira stresses the importance in restaurant service, over and above technical knowledge, of attitude. “Techniques and skills can be trained,” he says. “But the real world is different from competition: we also need to know how to talk to customers, how to serve them, how to present ourselves to them.”

Ms. Lei and Weng Ian began training in March and will continue until the WorldSkills Competition opens in August. Both say they have learned many new techniques, and that the standard of the service they give has improved in the past few months.

“We didn’t expect to be doing food carving or making coffee,” Ms. Lei says. She expects competing in the WorldSkills Competition to teach her more about restaurant service and improve her ability to communicate with customers. That, she adds, will help make her a better hospitality industry worker.

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