More than 1,200 of the globe’s top tradespeople – from jewellers and hairdressers to plumbers and welders – representing 59 countries will take their skills to São Paulo, Brazil, for the ultimate skills showdown at the 43rd WorldSkills Competition.
The small business community in Australia is backing our 26 top tradies, the Skillaroos, as they take their skills to the international stage in the hopes of taking home a gold medal for their country and learning a trick or two in the process.
Since coordinating her first Regional competition for North Coast in 1991, WorldSkills Chief International Expert in Hairdressing Donna DeMaria has gone on to both design and judge WorldSkills Australia National Competitions. Further to this, she has dedicated many hours of her time to mentoring and training International competitors.
Ms DeMaria said it was important for small businesses to mentor and support apprentices in competitions like WorldSkills Australia to bring innovative new ideas to their business. She said the experience she gained in 1991 as a competitor at the 31st WorldSkills Competition in Amsterdam was invaluable in learning from the world’s best and passing that knowledge on by nurturing the next generation of talent.
“It’s a fast-track way to promote your business and boost the profile of the industry, with colleagues and clients being excited and motivated by the competitors’ success. It really does give your business that extra edge.”
“The additional skills and knowledge developed as a Skillaroo are second to none. Skillaroos bring back with them a new level of motivation and positivity that radiates amongst their peers and even their clients,” Ms DeMaria said.
“In the hairdressing industry, a huge amount of hype and excitement builds in the Skillaroos’ salon and everyone wants to know what they’ve seen and done at the competition.”
Ms DeMaria and former hairdressing Skillaroo Alexis Scott have been mentoring Geelong hairdresser, Hayley Parker, in the lead up to the WorldSkills International competition.
“The hard work and dedication of my mentors is truly inspiring and makes me want to get involved in Worldskills like they have,” Ms Parker said.
She said the most challenging aspect of her job was keeping up with the latest trends, as hairdressing was a continually evolving industry.
“This is also what makes our job so exciting – no two days are the same!”
The team flew to Brazil on 5 August to participate in a number of pre-competition activities including meeting officials from the Australian Embassy in Brazil and visiting school children as part of WorldSkills’ “One School One Country” program before the competition commences on 11 August.
WorldSkills Australia CEO, Mark Callaghan said the competition showcased a bright future for trades and skills in Australia and plays a unique role in emphasising the importance of vocational education and training to local economies.
“More than ever, Australia’s growth, innovation and prosperity are being driven by trades and skills. Last year we saw almost 500 exceptional young tradespeople show off their skills, with the cream of the crop soon heading over to São Paulo. We can’t wait to see what the Skillaroos will achieve on the international stage.”
While the Vocational Education and Training sector is shaping such skilled young talent, a recent WorldSkills Australia survey shows the VET sector is consistently misunderstood. It found a lack of understanding of what VET pathways could offer, with 38 per cent of respondents not knowing jewellery is offered at a TAFE level, one quarter not knowing bricklaying was offered and one in five not aware plumbing was offered.
Many Aussies are also reluctant to commit to the idea of a trade-based career – more than two thirds have never considered a career in a trade-based industry. This is despite knowing it is an aspirational employment prospect.
For more information visit the WorkSkills Australia website: www.worldskills.org.au