The preliminaries of the Belgian championship for technical and technological trades, Startech’s Days, will continue on Sunday and Monday with a focus on seven construction vocations at the Salon Batimoi in Marche-en-Famenne.
Some 106 candidates under the age of 25 will showcase their skills as apprentice tilers, plasterers, masons, joiners, electricians, painters or stonemasons. They will try to impress a jury of experts and qualify for the finals in their respective disciplines, to be held on 23-24 March in the city of Ciney in the Namur province.
In Belgium, 13,000 jobs were vacant in the construction sector in the third quarter of last year, according to the national statistical office, Statbel. Startech’s Days hopes to help fill these gaps by promoting the seven construction trades this year.
The Startech’s Days laureates will represent Belgium at the European trades championship, Euroskills. But before they can book their flights for the September championship in Graz, Austria, they need to move up the Belgian ladder and maintain nerves of steel amid the pressure of the competition.
“The first time I was totally useless, completely stressed out […] and constantly under pressure,” recalls Julien Neulens, who went on to represent Belgium in 2016 at the Gothenburg Euroskills, then in 2017 at Worldskills in Abu Dhabi.
Today the 24-year-old has his own company in the Luxembourg province and is a member of the jury in Joinery. He has also remained in contact with other former candidates. “We do business together,” he says.
In Hall 6 of the WEX, candidates will have 16 hours between Sunday and Monday to carry out a precise task. The public will be able to follow the evolution of this “test project,” thanks to explanatory billboards and the Worldskills teams, who will be on hand to answer questions.
For those who would like to try out their skills, a Vocational Village will offer demonstrations and exhibitions alongside the actual competition, so masonry and tiling, for example, but also parks and gardens, will no longer hold any secrets for them.