Skills and thrills
Further skills need to be on the agenda, writes Ben Pike
COMPETING against sharper opponents at the 42nd WorldSkills International Competition has highlighted the need for Australia to increase investment in vocational education and training.
The Skillaroos finished the competition, which has become the Olympics of vocational education and training, with one gold, two silver and one bronze medals at the July 2-7 event.
Fourteen of Australia’s 31 competitors were also given medallions of excellence.
Despite the shining individual performances in Germany, Australia has slipped down the WorldSkills rankings from 5th in 2009 to 7th in 2011 and 13th this year.
The slide has coincided with a significant increase in the number of countries competing since 2009, with 67 now involved.
WorldSkills Australia chief executive Mark Callaghan is calling for 2015 to be the year we push back up the rankings. ‘‘ The UK ranked above us for the first time in many competitions,’’ he says.
‘‘ Everyone wants to beat the Poms in everything and it is probably something that will stick in our craw that we have been beaten by the UK.
‘‘ We want to make sure that we move up the rankings next time.
‘‘ The ranking is not ideal. It serves as a bit of reminder that we need to invest in human capital.
‘‘ Our human resources will increase our productivity and performance.’’
Australia has been involved in WorldSkills since 1981, with the international event serving as a showcase of our best and brightest apprentices in the technical and trade occupations. Callaghan says individuals who want to be at WorldSkills 2015 in Brazil must get involved in regional competitions now.
‘‘ At the end of the day, all of the 31 Skillaroos have im- proved their technical and personal skills,’’ he says.
‘‘ They will all go back to their places of work with more confidence and the ability to take on more responsibility.’’
Jessica Martin won the silver medal for restaurant service, officially making her one of the best young waiters on the planet.
The 21-year-old excelled in the categories of fine dining, casual dining, cocktail making, carving meat and fruit at the table and chateaubriand (a brandy-doused flaming steak served at the table).
She is also an expert in wine and spirit identification.
‘‘ I left in Year 10 knowing this is what I wanted to do. The competition in Germany was the four hardest working days of my life,’’ the Sydneysider says.
‘‘ I’ve been approached by some places overseas but I want to give back to my employer first because they supported me so much.’’