The Barents region faces problems of high unemployment rates and employers struggle to find suitable workforce. ArcticSkill was created to tackle this problem.

ArcticSkills is a vocational training championship held every year in the Barents region. The aim is to increase the status of vocational education and come up with joint standardization of vocational programs with the purpose to facilitate labor mobility across the borders for graduated students and apprentices.

This project originated in 2015 when representatives from Kirkenes Upper Secondary School brought up the idea to create a Barents regional hub of skills similar to the WorldSkills championship, yet with a stronger pedagogical and inclusive approach. The aspiration is not only to arrange a competition annually but to create a platform for the development of vocational education and training in close relation with the industry and business sectors.

Representatives from Murmansk and Lapland embraced the idea and an agreement was signed between regional school authorities in Russia, Finland and Norway to enter into a collaboration to arrange ArcticSkills.

The competition has been held four times so far: Kirkenes 2016, Murmansk 2017, Tornio 2018 and Kirkenes 2019. ArcticSkills 2020 will be organized in Övertorneå in March 30th and 31st.

The tournaments have grown in popularity and number of participants. Besides students and apprentices from Finnmark (Norway), Murmansk (Russia) and Lapland (Finland) the championship has had contestants from Tornedalsskolan and Utbildning Nord (Sweden) and Taimyr (Russia), competing in Duodji and Reindeer herding.

This year, the competition will be held in Övertorneå with 15 participating schools and up to 18 trade skills (such as car painting, chef, heavy machinery, plumber, IT and health care worker).

ArcticSkills values a people-to-people approach very highly. The school competition contributes to gather people across the borders to develop new ideas, projects and find new contacts and friendships. It is a priority to always include the Saami schools of the region and the organization is thriving to broader the indigenous peoples footprint.

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