Students snare schools shield at WorldSkills championships

The state’s best VET students competed at the national vocational education championships in Melbourne, winning a swag of medals. Duyen Nguyen reports.

Six students wearing medals in front of a red wall. The two students in the centre are holding a shield. Six students wearing medals in front of a red wall. The two students in the centre are holding a shield.
Image: Medallists Emily Spiers (Dapto High - Silver, Food and Beverage), Sophia Gooley (Ballina Coast High - Gold, Hairdressing), Kayla Young (Murray High - Silver, Bricklaying), Jake Turner (Yanco Agricultural High - Gold, Primary Industries), Lachlan Broad (Yanco Agricultural High - Silver, Primary Industries) and Benjamin Perrin (Macintyre High - Bronze, Primary Industries) with the VET Shield.

Nearly 170 students, apprentices and trainees from NSW public schools competed in the WorldSkills National Championships, Australia’s biggest vocational education and excellence competition, at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre last week.

School and TAFE students from across the country went head-to-head with their industry peers over three days in trades that ranged from automotive mechanics to welding and primary industries.

NSW also won the hotly contested VET Shield, awarded to the state with the highest proportion of students who placed in a category.

Two NSW public school students won gold, along with 12 other NSW-based apprentices and trainees. A total of 77 NSW public school students, apprentices and trainees received awards.

Heather White, the Department’s VET Curriculum Coordinator for Skills and Pathways, said she was amazed by the breadth and depth of skills exhibited at the championships.

“Imagine six football fields’ worth of trades on display under one roof,” she said.

“You could wander from trade to trade and watch garden seats crafted in carpentry, walls and pillars built in bricklaying, high tea served in hospitality and even get a scalp massage and treatment in hairdressing.

“We have such a skills shortage in this country, and the students’ demonstrated such maturity in the way they work as they are pushed to attain another level of expertise. Employers look to these students as they know they are the best of the best.”

Ms White was particularly pleased at the number of female students participating and succeeding in non-traditional trades. Two of the NSW students who competed in bricklaying were girls, with one winning a medal.

Murray High School Year 12 student Kayla Young is completing a school-based apprenticeship in bricklaying and won a silver medal.

“It was a really exciting experience to be at the WorldSkills Championships meeting people, and I can see that this will lead to great opportunities,” she said.

“It’s just amazing getting to see all the other trades, too.”

VET Trainer Clint Giddings said he was highly impressed by the abilities of the competing students.

“I’m blown away by the prowess that they show in such a variety of different trades. Vocational education is a fantastic pathway for students to learn and gain hands-on skills,” he said.

“I have discovered as a careers advisor that if we allow students to delve into training at school, they have a higher chance of achieving successful post-school employment as they are able to realise their value early on.”

Awardees from the WorldSkills National Championships are set to compete in France next year to represent Australia in the WorldSkills International Competition.

A female student building holding a trowel and building a pillar of bricks. A female student building holding a trowel and building a pillar of bricks.
Image: Murray High Year 12 student Kayla Young in action at the national WorldSkills championships in Melbourne.
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