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TAFE NSW Wollongong-based steelworkers fly the flag for Australia at the WorldSkills Australia Global Skills Challenge

06 July 2011

After months of gruelling tests and training, this week will mark one of the final passages to victory for Wollongong-based steelworkers Michael Ashton and Guy Brooks. The 21-year-old competitors join 29 of Australia’s skilled elite at the WorldSkills Australia Global Skills Challenge, to take on competitors from 10 countries around the world, including Canada, Netherlands, the UK and New Zealand.

The Global Skills Challenge, running from 5-8 July, represents essential preparation for WorldSkills Team Australia – a squad of Australia’s finest young craftspeople known as the “Skillaroos” – in the lead-up to WorldSkills International 2011.

The Global Skills Challenge is a simulated international competition that closely replicates the conditions of the International competition, due to take place in London from 5-8 October 2011.

This competition comes at a time when the government is urging employers to take on apprentices, nurture their skills and help fight against a potential skills deficit for the next generation. As well as helping to provide for Australia’s future, companies also gain a valuable partnership with the young people they employ. Guy and Michael’s employer, fabricator and installer of structural steelwork K&R Fabrications, is one company of many to feel the full benefits of this skill-based apprenticeship focus.

After fighting through rounds of regional and national contests to represent Australia, Guy and Michael, entering the welding and construction metal work categories respectively, have become vital members of the Skillaroo team which comprises 16 TAFE NSW students competing in what has become the largest international WorldSkills event to be held in Australia since 1988.

And Michael and Guy are not the first K&R Fabrications employees to represent Australia at WorldSkills International. Michael Ashton’s brother, Shane, who also works at K&R, won national gold in the welding category two years ago. His brother is now following in his footsteps with Guy, as they train together each night after work in preparation for their final push.

“This challenge will be intense but it is an amazing opportunity to meet people from all over the world, see how my work measures up against theirs and maybe even learn some new skills along the way. The Global Skills Challenge is my final chance to prepare for London, and I intend to make the most of it. I can’t wait to get started,” said Michael.

Mark Callaghan, WorldSkills Australia CEO comments, “Preparations for the Global Skills Challenge are well underway in Wollongong, and WorldSkills Australia is very much looking forward to welcoming our guests as they arrive for what will be a highly charged, highly challenging international event. WorldSkills is a wonderful celebration of skills excellence and we wish Michael, Guy and all of the other Skillaroos every success in flying the flag for our country.”

The 41st WorldSkills International Competition in London will showcase the global skills standards displayed by competitors from over 50 countries representing 45 skill areas. The Skillaroos will face the pressures of excelling in their individual skill categories and defending Australia’s current 5th place ranking worldwide.

TAFE NSW is proud to work with WorldSkills Australia and congratulates the 16 TAFE NSW students who make up the 2011 Skillaroos.

WorldSkills Australia is a dynamic not-for-profit organisation that has been actively celebrating and promoting the standards and status of vocational education and training and skills excellence since 1981. This is achieved primarily through programs of trade and skill competitions, through which WorldSkills Australia aims to raise the profile of skill-based vocations through a series of regional, national and international competitions, engaging industry, government and vocational education and training authorities to promote the benefits of skill development as a pathway to a career in trade.

WorldSkills Australia contributes to sustainable economic prosperity through the development, recognition and promotion of excellence in skills.

For additional information regarding WorldSkills Australia Global Skills Challenge, visit:


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