Careers & Training

High hopes at National Skills Championships

Seventy-three of Queensland’s top trainees and apprentices will represent the state at the 2021 WorldSkills Australia National Championships from August 26-28.

It will take place at TAFE Queensland’s South Bank, Acacia Ridge, Bracken Ridge, Mount Gravatt, Bundaberg and Alexandra Hills campuses in Brisbane.

The 2021 Queensland team members became eligible for selection after competing in WorldSkills Australia regional competitions across the state. They will represent their families, employers and each of the six Queensland WorldSkills regions of Brisbane, Central Queensland, Gold Coast, North Queensland, South West and Wide Bay.

TAFE Queensland engineering apprentice, Teah Olsen, 22, from Bellbird Park will join the Queensland team to test her skills in the fitting and turning trade, having previously won gold at the Queensland regional competition.

“I feel a little bit nervous but I’m definitely excited. At the end of the day I’m just going to try my best. It’s going to be an experience and a bit of fun to show others that you’ve got skills,” Olsen said.

“Being in the engineering trade, I know that a lot of females have been scared to put their best foot forward. I want to show other women that you can do it,” she said.

Olsen credits the support she has received from her TAFE Queensland Fitting and Turning teacher, Stephanie Smith who has been working with her to prepare for the challenges that she will face in the competition.

“Every Friday for the last couple of months we’ve been training and practising the calculations. We’ve also been focusing on the skills that I work on less at work and the ones that I’m less confident in,” Olsen added.

“Being the only female in the workshop and being trained by my TAFE Queensland teacher, Steph has meant a lot to me. Being trained by a female teacher has enabled me to connect and learn differently which has been really great,” she said.

Olsen’s employer MIGAS and host employer Arnotts have both been extremely supportive of her training and the upcoming competition. She said that one of the biggest benefits about being involved in the WorldSkills Competition is the new skills you learn and also the connections that you make within industry.

“At the end of the day I can put this on my resume and employers are going to see that this is a person who is willing to go above and beyond. It’s not even about being the best it’s about giving it a go and being willing to learn,” Olsen said.

The Championships were originally postponed in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions but the extra time has given competitors more training time to perfect their skills and ready themselves ahead of competing on a national stage.

This year, over 400 competitors from 34 Australian regions will vie for the title of ‘National Champion’ in simulated work environments during the competition. Competitors will be competing in a range of different skills areas including hairdressing, bricklaying, fashion, plumbing, heavy vehicle mechanics, electrical installation, information technology, retail butchery and cookery – just to name a few.

The WorldSkills Australia National Championships is the largest vocational educational and excellence competition in Australia and biannually competitors travel from across Australia to put their skills to the test across over 50 different trade and skills areas.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions currently in place around Australia, this year the Championships will be contested within four states – Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland; with national gold, silver and bronze medallists to be announced at the end of the two-day competition.

The spotlight on apprenticeships and trainees as a professional career pathway continues to grow with the most recent release of national apprentice and trainee data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research showing that there were 297,920 apprentices and trainees in training across Australia as at December 31, 2020 and that training commencements were up were up 141.5 per cent compared with the December quarter 2019.

WorldSkills Australia Queensland Manager Eric Davis has been involved with the championships since 2003 and said he was once again excited to see the Queensland team test their skills against Australia’s best.

“Each year, the championships provide competitors with the opportunity to practise and perfect their skill area in a supportive environment then test their skills against their industry peers,” Davis said.

“Participating also provides competitors with the chance to develop important relationships within their industry Australia-wide.

“The benefits for trainees and apprentices are endless – from further developing their skills to networking, forging new friendships and creating exciting new career opportunities.”

“By the end of the Championships, competitors are more confident in themselves and have a greater understanding of their skill area and industry. Most importantly they bring this confidence and knowledge back to their workplace to benefit their employers, work colleagues and their industry,” he said.

TAFE Queensland Chief Executive Officer Mary Campbell said that TAFE Queensland has long been a strong supporter of the WorldSkills Australia National Championships and is excited to see Queensland’s top trade talent perform on a national stage.

“Vocational Education and Training forms an integral piece of the Australian education system and the Championships highlight the important role that skilled workers play in our industries and our communities across Australia,” Campbell said.

“The three-day competition is an exciting time for each competitor to test their skills and to showcase their talents and we wish everyone the very best of luck,” she said.

Queenslanders who are successful at the National Championships will be eligible to travel to Shanghai in China to compete as part of the Australian Skillaroos Team at the 46th WorldSkills International Competition which is planned to be held in August 2022.

To follow the competition, click here.

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