16 January, 2016

Skillaroos shine positive light on Australian TAFE system

By The Worldskills Team

WorldSkills Australia’s team of 26 Australian competitors is toasting a fantastic team effort following their impressive performance at the 43rd WorldSkills Competition in São Paulo, Brazil.

Held on 11-16 August 2015, the Skillaroos proved to be fierce competition for the other 62 countries in attendance. The excitement in the air at the Closing Ceremony was palpable as over 1,200 competitors came together at the Ibirapuera Gymnasium to celebrate their achievements after four days of competition.

Harlan Wilton from TAFE NSW Western Sydney Institute, Jyothi Forman from Melbourne Polytechnic and Joseph Pauley from Polytechnic West each won a silver medal in Web Design, Jewellery and Industrial Mechanics Millwright respectively. Joseph also had the honour of being named Australia’s Best of Nation.

Dylan Di Martino from Victoria University and Sam Spong from TAFE NSW Illawarra Institute each secured a bronze medal in Plumbing & Heating and Bricklaying respectively.

The team’s fantastic effort boosted Australia’s ranking to 12th in the world.

Competitors, Experts and spectators alike were amazed by the scale of the competition, the largest WorldSkills Competition to date. The competition utilised over 213,000m² of competition space – roughly equivalent to the size of 17 Olympic-sized swimming pools. There was a lot to see and do for spectators including leaders in industry, education and government, with a host of educational activities to try in addition to viewing competitions across 50 skill categories.

“It’s really exciting that I can make everyone proud that has helped me along the way,” said Jyothi Forman after the Closing Ceremony. “There are so many people that have been helping me and supporting me, and I am so happy that I pulled through and got the silver medal.”

“Jyothi is a great example of someone who has a dream and is prepared to work hard to realise that dream,” said Rob Wood, CEO of Melbourne Polytechnic.

“We are pleased that we were able to support her initially through our Certificate III in Jewellery apprenticeship program, then through mentoring by our staff and financial support for the competition. That type of ongoing relationship with our graduates is something that we would like to support more in future.”

The Skillaroos’ strong performance was the culmination of two years of intensive competition and one-on-one training. Their journey started with their medal-winning performance at the regional level in 2013, advancing them to the National Competition held in Perth last year. After being named the best in the country in their respective trades and skills, these talented individuals were selected to be part of the Skills Squad – a new concept first introduced in 2014 involving the ongoing training and evaluation of each member with the overarching goal of sending the best team possible to the international competition.

"The Skillaroos are living proof that Australia is at the forefront of vocational education and training excellence," said WorldSkills Australia CEO, Mark Callaghan.

"We are very proud of the hard work that these amazing young Australians have dedicated to their professional development over the last two years. They are excellent ambassadors for their respective industries, and we hope that their achievements serve to show other young people that vocational education and training pathways are viable first choice career options."


The WorldSkills Competition is more than a chance at glory for the talented young apprentices, trainees and students that have the opportunity to compete at the international level. In addition to enhanced technical abilities, the years of dedication to training and competition that the Skillaroos have undertaken in preparation for the event has provided each with valuable practical experience that will forever change the course of their lives.

“It isn’t just about determining medallists,” said International Chief Expert in Bricklaying, Troy Everett, who trained bronze medallist Sam Spong over the last year. “It’s also about learning about yourself, how you handle pressure and producing the quality work that you didn’t think you were capable of. These are all skills and attributes that help shape you as a good tradesperson.”

The days after the competition were filled with a myriad of emotions as all involved finally had a chance to breathe and let the significance of the experience sink in. Troy said that it was a very proud and emotional moment when the competition ended and Sam Spong was greeted by his mother and a team of Aussie supporters. Many of the Skillaroos reflected upon the entire journey they have undertaken over the last two years.

“I feel like I’ve come a long way and that I’ve learned a lot about my industry,” said Dale Fisher, who won a Medallion of Excellence in Graphic Design Technology. “There are so many things I didn't know a year ago that I now feel like I could work in pretty easily.”

“Dale showed a huge increase in skills from his time of being a regional and national WorldSkills Australia competitor, to his performance at the International Competition,” said International Deputy Chief Expert in Graphic Design Technology, Sarah Jones.

“Through our extensive training through both face-to-face and distance via Skype and email, he showed constant and significant progress in all facets of design as well as his technical skills. There are very few young people who have such broad skills that cover both complex technical output as well as creativity, and he is an extremely valuable asset to the industry.”

Sarah was impressed with Dale’s performance at the competition, particularly in editorial, corporate and information design and advertising tasks. “I am extremely proud of his commitment and effort to his professional development.”


On 26 August at the Victorian launch of National Skills Week, the Victorian Minister for Training and Skills, the Hon. Steven Herbert officially announced that Melbourne will host the 2016 WorldSkills Australia National Competition.

The competition is expected to see over 500 competitors from around the country compete in 60 skill categories across three intense days of competition. Winners from Regional Competitions held throughout 2015 will demonstrate individual and collective technical skills to be used to perform a series of tasks simulating real work challenges that must be completed in accordance with industry standards.

Three days of intensive competition will reveal Australia’s most skilled young people under the age of 23, who may have the opportunity to represent Australia as a Skillaroo at the 44th WorldSkills Competition in Abu Dhabi, UAE, in October 2017.

“Only a short time ago, the 2015 Skillaroos were standing in the same shoes as this year’s regional competitors,” says Mark Callaghan. “Two years of hard work and dedication paid off as these amazing young Australians returned home from the international competition helping us achieve a ranking of 12th in the world.”

“Now, Australia’s next generation of trades and skills talent is hoping to follow in the 2015 Skillaroos footsteps. We look forward to seeing what they will bring to the 2016 WorldSkills Australia National Competition and, if successful taking them through to Abu Dhabi in 2017.”

To find out more about the 2015 Skillaroos and the 2016 WorldSkills Australia National Competition, visit:




Harlan Wilton (Web Design), TAFE NSW Western Sydney Institute

Joseph Pauley (Industrial Mechanics Millwright), Polytechnic West

Jyothi Forman (Jewellery), Melbourne Polytechnic


Dylan Di Martino (Plumbing & Heating), Victoria University

Sam Spong (Bricklaying), TAFE NSW Illawarra Institute


Adele Di Bella (Pâtisserie & Confectionery), TAFE NSW Northern Sydney Institute

Beau Kupris (Refrigeration & Air Conditioning), TAFE NSW South Western Sydney Institute

Blair Watters (Car Painting), TAFE NSW Hunter Institute

Dale Fisher (Graphic Design Technology), RMIT University

Emma Hillier (Fashion Technology), TAFE NSW South Western Sydney Institute

Hayley Parker (Hairdressing), Gordon TAFE

John Reminis (Bakery), TAFE NSW Illawarra Institute

Kallon McVicar (Welding), TAFE NSW Illawarra Institute

Karl Davies (Automobile Technology), Federation University

Nicholas Roman (Joinery), TAFE NSW Illawarra Institute

Samantha Johnson (Restaurant Service), TAFE NSW Northern Sydney Institute