Skills to Change the World

—“Craftsmanship Insights” and “Skills for U”

2019 / November

Sharleen Su /photos courtesy of Skills for U /tr. by Phil Newell

Taiwanese society has long put academic education on a pedestal, while undervaluing voca­tional skills. This bias is not only evident in the education system, it also appears in all corners of the job market. But in truth people with professional skills are the foundation and central pillar of society. From baking to plumbing to electrical installation to welding, each profession requires its own special skills. Only with these skills can businesses flourish, and only with them can Taiwan make stable progress.

At the 2019 WorldSkills Competition held in Kazan, Russia, at the end of August, the Taiwanese team won five gold medals, five silvers, five bronzes, and 23 medal­lions of excellence, ranking third in the competition by total medal points.

A video of the awards ceremony posted on the Facebook page “Craftsmanship Insights” shows ­Cheng Tzu-yang, winner of a bronze medal in polymechanics and automation, punching the air and shouting for joy when his name is announced; Hung Yu-hsiang, bronze medalist in patisserie and confectionery, says excitedly, “I want to cry—I trained until I nearly collapsed!”; Yan Xiang-yu, silver medalist in autobody repair, clenches his fist and says wryly, “I sooo wanted to beat mainland China!”; and Hsieh Hsieh-yi, who took a gold medal in bakery, when asked if there is anything he particularly wants to do, looks straight into the camera and says candidly, “I want to go back to Taiwan and eat some braised pork on rice!”

The pride of Taiwan

This down-to-earth video, full of youthful energy, showed the names and awards of prizewinners one after another, highlighting the glory they had won for Taiwan. The comments section below the video included messages such as: “This made me cry! You are the pride of Taiwan.” “Thank you all for putting Taiwan in the world spotlight!”

The driving force behind the making of this video was Huang Wei-xiang, founder of Craftsmanship Insights and CEO of the not-for-profit organization “Skills for U.”

To report on this year’s WorldSkills Competition, Huang raised funds online to bring his film team to faraway Kazan. Not only did they go online daily to describe the latest developments in real time, they continually fed videos and images back to Taiwan to provide content for use by the mainstream media, successfully drawing public attention to the topic of occupa­tional skills.

A marginalized field

Huang filmed several videos in Kazan, inspiring a lot of discussion on the Internet. Yet young people who pursue vocational education have long been ignored by society. Two years ago, Huang went by himself to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, to report on the 2017 WorldSkills Competition. But when he walked into the international press room, he discovered that he was the only reporter from Taiwan there.

“The WorldSkills Competition, held every two years, is the Olympics of the international occupational skills community!” Yet there were no reporters from Taiwan at such a major event.

WorldSkills has the highest profile of any contest in the world of vocational skills. Having started in Spain in 1950, it currently boasts over 82 member countries from around the world. “Taiwan began competing in 1970, so in fact we’re longstanding members,” says Huang.

When a national team competitor is overlooked in Taiwan, this means that a whole group of people behind that competitor have also been overlooked. “It’s a little like the notion of an industrial value chain.” It really is a pity if the accomplishments that youngsters pursuing vocational education have worked so hard to achieve go unnoticed.

Craftsmanship Insights—a voice for skills

Huang founded the Craftsmanship Insights website five years ago in hopes of giving voice to the peripheral world of occupational skills through reports. “When I started out five years ago, everyone thought I was crazy.”

While going from a rookie beat reporter unfamiliar with government agencies to a senior journalist who under­stands policies and is familiar with the occupational skills community, Huang has often used his stories to advocate for change. He successfully promoted the passage of amendments to Taiwan’s legislation on compulsory military service, so that members of national teams competing in international contests are exempt from service. He has also explored the issue of measures to support outstanding vocational students in going on to study at technical universities, exposed the overuse of Class B Technician Certificates as a route into higher education, and examined ways to improve the recruitment system for vocational education. Huang has been appointed to the Executive Yuan’s Youth Advisory Council, and officials at the Ministry of Education often consult him on matters related to vocational education.

In August 2019, Huang brought his five-member video team to Kazan seven days before the WorldSkills Competition began. To ensure a continuing flow of first-hand news, during the competition the team worked through the nights to edit footage and add subtitles so that their reports would arrive at major media outlets first thing in the morning. By accompanying and observing the competitors throughout their stay, Huang and his team not only were able to capture many touching scenes for the reports they filed during the event itself, but after returning home they continued to put out behind-the-scenes stories from the competition, dissecting in depth the challenges and hardships the contestants experienced. Accompanied by fascinating online commentaries, these reports presented reality directly to their audience.

Dialogue with society through skills

“I feel that reports of this kind should not only raise the visibility of gold medal winners. I hope they will also encourage young people who have chosen vocational education and people in all kinds of craft professions to devote themselves to the field of occupational skills.”

In January 2018, Huang and some partners formed the not-for-profit group “Skills for U.” They want to promote the concept of “using occupational skills to engage in dialogue with society,” in hopes of enabling people with different skill sets to develop novel solutions in response to different social issues.

At the end of 2018, Huang and eight competitors from international skills contests transformed an idle space beside the parking lot of Da­peng Elementary School in New Taipei City’s ­Wanli District into a beautiful shipping-container classroom, creating an arts space for the children. “By applying occupational skills, we can get involved with different social issues and solve various social problems, while enabling young people in vocational education to connect with social issues as they learn.”

“People with vocational skills are not only valued industrial workers, they are also an important source of talent for promoting social harmony and sustainability.” How long this road will be is still uncertain, but Huang Wei-xiang is sure he will continue to walk down it.     

Relevant articles

Recent Articles

日本語 繁體


Skills for Uとクラフトマンシップ

文・蘇晨瑜 写真・Skills for U 翻訳・笹岡 敦子






動画制作を支えたのが、非営利団体Skills for UのCEO黄偉翔である。今回の「技能五輪国際大会」報道に向けて、黄偉翔はクラウドファンディングで資金を集め、撮影班と共にロシアのカザンへと赴いた。競技を毎日報道し、映像を送信して主流メディアに報道素材を提供し、「職業技能」はホットなトピックになったのである。
















報道で発信していくほかに、体制との対話を通じて、具体的に台湾の技能教育を変えていきたいと考えた黄偉翔は、2018年1月に、仲間とNPO「Skills for U」を立ち上げ、「技能で社会と対話する」理念を広めている。これは国連の持続可能な開発目標(SDGs)に掲げる公正な質の高い教育に呼応するものだ。異なる技能をもつ人が、様々なソリューションを生み出せば、多様な社会的課題に応えられるようになる。

昨年末、黄偉翔はナショナルチームの選手8人を率いて、新北市萬里区大鵬小学校を訪れ、駐車場わきの遊休スペースを、美しいコンテナ教室に改造した。それは、子供たちの心を魅了するアートスペースになった。Skills for Uのカリキュラムは、例えば工作の授業なら、子供たちが実際に模型を作り、鄭和が南海遠征でどこに上陸したのかをシミュレーションし、木工に地理と歴史の学習を盛り込む。調理科の生徒は一人暮らしの高齢者に食事を作り、デザイン科の学生は社会的弱者のために衣服を作る。「技能で社会の課題と対話し、問題を解決します。そして技能を学ぶ中で、社会問題を考えられるようになるのです」



技職3.0─Skills for U

文‧蘇晨瑜 圖‧Skills for U






製作這支影片的幕後推手,是非營利組織Skills for U的執行長黃偉翔。在黃偉翔工作室裡,他俐落打開筆電,秀出畫面:「短短不到幾天,這支影片在臉書上不斷被瘋狂轉載,點閱流量已經超過百萬次。」






國際技能競賽是技職圈中,最受人矚目的賽事。該項比賽1950年由西班牙發起,目前由國際技能組織(WorldSkills International, WSI)主辦,主要是讓各國技職人才能有國際觀摩、切磋技能的機會。目前全球會員國超過82個,「台灣從1970年就開始參加,其實是老班底了。」黃偉翔表示。















去(2018)年1月,黃偉翔反思台灣對技職人才缺少實質關照,除了繼續透過他的技職報導傳遞聲音,也希望透過跟體制對話,實質改變台灣的技職領域。他與夥伴成立非營利組織Skills for U,推廣「用技能與社會對話」的理念,響應聯合國永續發展目標(SDGs)中的提升教育品質與減少不平等,讓擁有不同技能的人,得以發展出不同的解決方案,呼應不同的社會議題。

去年底,黃偉翔率領八位國手前往新北市萬里區大鵬國小,成功地把原先國小停車場旁的閒置空間,巧手改造成美麗的貨櫃屋教室,成為小朋友心目中的美術空間。Skills for U也嘗試開發課程,例如在木工科中,讓小朋友實作模型,模擬鄭和下西洋在何處上岸,以木工技能去承載地理與歷史的學習。同樣地,餐飲科學生可為獨居老人製作餐點,設計科學生可為弱勢者製作衣服等等,「透過技能,我們可以去跟不同的社會議題對話,解決不同的社會問題,並讓學習技能的孩子,能夠在學習過程中,與社會的問題產生鏈結。」


X 使用【台灣光華雜誌】APP!