An impressive group of apprentices from Stanwell Power Station and Tarong Power Stations have put their skills to the test and gone head-to-head with the best in their field, battling it out and coming out on top in the high-pressure WorldSkills competition.
The WorldSkills competition is considered the ‘skills Olympics’ for vocational education and training. Running since 1981, the competition sees more than 4,000 apprentices, trainees and students facing off in regional competitions around Australia for the chance to win gold, silver and bronze medals.
More than 50 trades and skills are tested at WorldSkills events, which operate on a two-year cycle. Competitions are held at a grass roots level in Australian regions this year, with the winners moving on to compete in the WorldSkills Australia National Championships next year.
Stanwell was proud to send four contestants to this year’s regional competitions held in Toowoomba and Bundaberg throughout November, including:
• Brylie Jones, a second year boilermaker apprentice from Tarong Power Stations
• David McGrath, a third year mechanical apprentice from Stanwell Power Station
• Baylin Janes, a third year electrical apprentice from Stanwell Power Station
• Cody Krafft, a fourth year electrical apprentice from Stanwell Power Station
The contestants were required to demonstrate various mechanical and technical skills, while completing assigned project pieces within challenging time frames.
The group performed exceptionally well, with Brylie Jones winning gold in the Welding category; David McGrath winning gold in the Turning category; Cody Krafft taking out bronze in the Electrical Control category; and Baylin Janes competing strongly in the Electrical Installation category.
For Brylie, who triumphed over more senior apprentices, the WorldSkills competition provided a chance for her to measure herself against the gold standard.
“It was just great to be able to test myself, to see how I could work under strict timelines with these challenging welds,” she says.
“There were six welds in total, and I had only just learned how to do three of them, so I did a lot of practice in the weeks leading up to the competition. They gave me time to practice the welds at work and at TAFE, so I could see what I needed to work on and really focus on improving in those areas.
“We only had six hours to complete the welds, and you’re up against the best apprentices in the region, so the competition was intense. But I think taking part in this competition and having to meet strict industry standards in such a short timeframe has helped me develop my attention to detail, and prove to myself and the industry that I can perform under pressure.”
David says the work he’s done as an apprentice at Stanwell Power Station was crucial to his ability to take out the top prize in the Turning category.
“I think the most important skill we develop at Stanwell is the ability to diagnose issues and figure out the best ways to fix them,” he says. “So it was great to put those problem-solving skills to use in competition.”
Cody agrees the WorldSkills competition provided a golden opportunity to put himself to the test under pressure, and develop his skills even further.
“It was interesting to see how different people work, and how different people approached the same challenges,” he says.
“I definitely picked up a few little things I could have improved on, and we’ve already set up a board in our workshop so we can practice with the next group who are going to compete at WorldSkills and show them a few tips and tricks that will help them to succeed.”
Sharron Coughlan, Apprentice & Trainee Officer at Tarong Power Stations, says competing in WorldSkills is a valuable learning experience, even for those apprentices who don’t come home with a medal.
“It’s great that Stanwell was able to win these medals and showcase the high level of training that we offer,” Sharron says. “We’ve worked hard to develop a supportive training environment, and to pair our apprentices and trainees with excellent leaders and tradespeople so they can develop world-class skills.
“But whether the competitors at WorldSkills win a medal or not, it’s really about putting themselves through their paces and demonstrating they can perform to a high standard in a high-pressure environment. We’re proud of all of the contestants, and they should be proud of themselves.”
Gold medal winners Brylie and David will go on to compete and showcase their skills at the WorldSkills Australia National Championships in Melbourne from 17-19 August 2023. Successful competitors at the National Championships will have the opportunity to compete internationally as members of the Skillaroos, the WorldSkills Australia International Team.