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TAFE NSW Grafton students refining their skills for national competition

TAFE NSW Grafton

TAFE NSW Grafton students refining their skills for national competition

Two TAFE NSW Grafton students are sharpening their skills in preparation to compete to represent Australia in the nation’s largest vocational skills competition.

Zachery Cracknell and Emmanuelle Das-Neves Ramos will compete in the WorldSkills Australia 2023 National Championships in August – Zachery in the Painting and Decorating event and Emmanuelle in Cookery.

WorldSkills hosts regional, national and international competitions which celebrate excellence and showcase vocational educational and training. Winners from the Nationals are in the running to be selected for the Australian Skillaroos team to compete against more than 75 countries. The international championships have run every two years since 1950.

More than 500 vocational students will compete in Melbourne over three days with their eye on the gold medal and a chance to represent Australia on the world stage in France next year.

Second-year Certificate III in Painting and Decorating student Zach works at Barry Scott Painting & Decorating in Coffs Harbour. He has been learning from his boss, as well as his esteemed mentor, WorldSkills legend TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Building Finishing Trades, Ian Vickery. Ian is currently the NSW Team Leader and has over 30 years' WorldSkills experience, having entered the competition in 1989 and mentoring TAFE NSW students since.   

To prep for Nationals, Zach is practicing his design once a week on a wall in the garage of his family home and working with his mentor after classes.

“I don’t want to be too confident going into Nationals – the competition is fierce, but I have done a lot of prep with my TAFE NSW teacher, who is one of the best in the business, so I know I've been set up for success.”

“The regional competition was a good learning experience to see other people’s approaches and seeing what they came up with. It has really helped to expand my knowledge and skills.”   

Emmanuelle is an Apprentice chef working at Latitude 30 restaurant in Coffs Harbour and has just completed a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery. She says her anticipation was building after months of mentorship by her TAFE NSW teachers.

“I have been putting in extra hours in the kitchen each week to prepare, and I have had huge support from my teacher, who has been working with my teacher to finalise my menu and ensure I know what to expect.”

“The WorldSkills competition is very similar to a commercial kitchen environment – it’s high pressure, and high intensity, with tight timeframes. I think all the practical experience we’ve gained through TAFE NSW gives us a huge advantage.”

TAFE NSW Executive Director Education and Skills North, Jason Darney, said the talented Hunter region students have earned the right to compete to represent Australia after upstaging some of the best local talent at the regional WorldSkills competitions last year.

“Our TAFE NSW finalists are representing some of the most in-demand industries from health to hairdressing, and everything in between. I'm proud to say Northern NSW is home to these industries' future leaders.

“The ultimate goal for Emmanuelle and Zachery is to earn a place on the Skillaroos team and represent Australia at the WorldSkills Competition in France next year.

“WorldSkills competitions provide TAFE NSW learners with amazing, and potentially life-changing learning opportunities in an exciting, interactive, and engaging environment.  

“Participants learn important life-long skills that will not only help them succeed individually but will help deliver a highly skilled workforce,” Mr Darney said.

The WorldSkills Australia 2023 National Championships will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 17-19 August.

To arrange interviews and imagery with Zachery or Emmanuelle, please contact TAFE NSW Media Team.


Media contact: Lauren McAllister, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, 0432 929 941.