The international WorldSkills competition was held in London in early October 2011. Salpaus Further Education sent three participants to the event: Sanni Jakoleff came fifth in the Jewellery category and Veijo Kauppila came seventh in Cabinetmaking. Toni Lehtimäki achieved 15th place in the Carpentry category.
WorldSkills London 2011 brought together 960 young participants from 51 countries. The Finnish team featured 46 competitors, winning five silver medals, three bronze medals and 18 Medallions of Excellence. Sanni Jakoleff and Veijo Kauppila were among those who took a Medallion of Excellence, which is awarded to competitors who exceed the average score of 500 points.
- I'm happy, because my goal was to reach the 500-point mark, and I got a score of 514. Getting over 500 points is a good achievement, Veijo says.
- I'm a little bit disappointed that I missed a medal by two points. But of course I'm still happy, says Sanni.
Sanni Jakoleff fought hard to finish her competition entry, despite the fact that she was taken in an ambulance to the hospital with a stomach complaint the night before the last day of the competition.
- I was discharged from the hospital at 6:00 AM, I had breakfast and went straight back to the competition. I thought, 'I don't have anything to loose, I want to fight until the end.' I managed to raise my ranking by two places on the last day, Sanni explains.
Competitors Benefit From the Experience
All three entrants from Salpaus had previous experience of international competitions. They have had success in the Finnish Taitaja competition and in Nordic championships in their respective categories.
- I was less nervous in this competition than in any previous ones. My first Taitaja competition was the most nerve-racking. Having previous competition experience was very helpful at the WorldSkills, Veijo says.
The Finnish team must have been at least a little bit nervous: at breakfast on the first competition day, no-one said a word. It took a while before the competitors got going with their competition entries, but slowly the work began to take shape.
- Eventually, you know what you're going to do and in what order, Veijo explains.
- It was great to be part of the Finnish team. The others were really supportive, and you never felt alone, Toni says.
The Cabinetmaking category had 24 competitors, each representing the very best of their home countries. The Carpentry category had 18 competitors, and the Jewellery category had 16. In the Jewellery category, the competitors had to make two pendants demonstrating sawing, soldering and filing skills.
- The task was challenging, Sanni notes.
Carpenters were given two competition tasks: a set of window frames and a spiral staircase.
- We were given 11 hours on two days to complete each work. The first task was more difficult and didn't go very well for me. Luckily, I was able to clear my head before the second task, which went a lot better, Toni explains.
- In many categories, some competitors gave up if the work didn't go well from the start. It's great if you can finish the task properly, Veijo points out.
The cabinetmakers were asked to make a wooden cabinet which included a drawer and a door. The cabinet had to have a hinged section, decorative veneer and handcut dovetail joints.
- I practised those three things a lot before the competition, and the dovetails turned out especially well. The work wasn't particularly difficult, but I ran out of time, Veijo says.
The competitors received the practice drawings a month before the competition in London. The drawings are modified 30 percent for the competition, and the competitors don't find out what the change is until they arrive at the competition.
Support From Experts
The Salpaus team was coached by Salpaus' very own experts. Veijo Kauppila was coached by lecturer Marko Varjos, Toni Lehtimäki was coached by training manager Hannu Honkanen, and Sanni Jakoleff was coached by lecturer Arto Tikkunen. In addition, the support team in London included Kari Kosonen who teaches design assistants at Salpaus and was coaching Jani Sihvola from Tornio, who took part in the CAD design category.
- The expert has a dual role as judge and coach. You can have a chat with the competitor in the mornings and evenings and give tips on how to continue the work. Obviously, you need to be there when the competitor needs support and reassurance, says Arto Tikkunen.
- The support from the expert was very important, especially in terms of making strategic changes in the work and figuring out what would give more points, Veijo explains.
Sanni Jakoleff has completed the jewellery programme at Salpaus Further Education, and she currently works at Annette Tillander in Helsinki. Veijo Kauppila and Toni Lehtimäki have completed the woodworking foundation course and are currently completing the vocational qualification in woodwork at Salpaus. After graduation, they are both planning to complete their national service before starting their careers.
Text: Silja Häikiö