For the first time in the offset printing category, the gold and silver medals went to two young women in the 41st WorldSkills competition in London. Over the four days of the event, world champions were crowned in 46 different disciplines. One thousand participants from 51 countries were watched by some 200 000 visitors, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, Her Royal Highness Princess Anne and other high-ranking politicians and business people, as they battled for medals and the best possible ranking.
The gold metal was awarded to 22-year-old printer Makiko Ito from Japan and the silver medal was awarded to Susanna Virtanen from Finland. Olivier Deloge from Belgium finished third, while fourth place went to German national champion Sascha Epp, an employee at Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, who also received the Medallion for Excellence.
Makiko has been working for the Asia Printing Corporation in Japan since 2008 and honed her skills on a Printmaster PM 74 from Heidelberg. In 2010, she won Japans national championship in the printing category. Silver medalist Virtanen works at a print shop that forms part of the training institute in Turku, Finland, which is equipped with a Printmaster PM 52 four-colour press.
Sascha Epp was awarded the Medallion for Excellence in recognition of his outstanding performance. The WorldSkills competition was an amazing experience for me and I am proud to have been able to compete in the event. The tasks were well designed and the experts went to great lengths to ensure a fair and objective assessment of the contestants performance, said Epp.
Bernhard Nahm, a member of the management team at the Print Media Centre in Heidelberg, was one of the judges assessing the performance of the young printers in London. He was delighted at the success of the female contestants. Heidelberg has had an impressively high proportion of female printing trainees for some years now. We are currently training ten young people to become printers and four of these are highly motivated young women. The next WorldSkills competition will return to Germany for the first time in 40 years – and perhaps one of our trainees will once again be a finalist in Leipzig in 2013, said Nahm.
The company provided two Speedmaster SM 52 five-colour presses for the competition in London. Both machines were sold to two British customers before the end of the event. The European finalists did their preparatory training on the same type of press at the Print Media Centre in Heidelberg in September 2011.
Heidelberg is a founding member of the WorldSkills Germany e.V. initiative, which was set up in 2006 to raise awareness of the exceptional value that high-quality vocational training holds.