World showdown sparks “skillaroos” ambition to be crowned globe’s best young tradies

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
6 Min Read

A pair of young Aussie tradies are looking to be crowned the best in the world at their craft when they battle it out at the WorldSkills International Championships later this year. 

The students, who make up part of Australia’s ‘Skillaroos’ team, will travel to France, where they will put their talents to the test, taking on young tradies from 75 other countries in a bid to be crowned world champion. 

The talented students were selected after already finishing top of their class at the WorldSkills Australia National Championships in Melbourne last August after demolishing the competition from other Aussie TAFEs. 

Their domestic win means they qualified for the chance to compete alongside 1,500 of the world’s best from a range of vocational education categories, including bricklaying, welding, metal works, electrical, refrigeration and more. 

Skilaroo tradie Dylan Redman, who will compete in the electrical category says while he was still buzzing after winning the domestic competition, he now has his eyes set on an even greater prize. 

“It was insane to be named the champion of Australia as just a third-year apprentice after going up against others much more knowledgeable than me,” he told Build-it. 

“But winning this year would mean I’d be the 2024 electrical champion, a world champion,  to beat every other country; I dont even know what I would feel.” 

“One hundred per cent, I’m going there to try to win; subtly, I’m the most competitive person around and want to give everyone a run for their money with the intent to bring home the gold.” 

Dylan practices his craft ahead of the world championships

Competition drives students to excel

The fourth-year apprentice, who currently hones his craft with Gold Coast-based Electrical Installations, told Build-it selection for the World Championship has made him even more diligent in practising his trade, with competitors not knowing the contest tasks until they’re on the competition floor. 

He told Build-it that the job security of being an electrician was what first attracted him to the trade before his undeniable passion began to spark, thanks to his teacher’s encouragement.

“I always wanted to go down the electrical pathway while in school; it’s a clean trade of the trades, and there will always be career options in electrical and jobs out there,” Dylan said. 

“In the first two years of TAFE, a few of the teachers selected me to compete in the regional comp, which I won, which gave me the confidence boost I needed to believe I was good at what I do.” 

Confidence and networking building up

Dylan will be joined by Sunshine Coast fourth-year apprentice Bailey Loenneker, who works for Always Cool Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. 

The 20-year-old admits to feeling nervous ahead of going up against the world’s best but told Build-it the competition has helped boost his confidence in the tools. 

“It is pretty nervewracking to be involved, but I feel the more confident I approach it, the better I do on the day,” he said. 

“I have been looking at past competitions and doing practice bends of copper and brazing ahead of the finals,” 

“The contest has been a great opportunity to build my skills and build my connections.” 

Bailey on the tools

Bailey encouraged school students considering a trade to look into refrigeration and air conditioning when considering their careers. 

“I like the variety of the job. It’s a very broad trade, so there are a lot of areas you can go into. It isn’t just focused on the one skill set, unlike other trades,” he told Build-it. 

Travelling with the Skillaroos will be a range of experts recognised as leaders in their industry alongside TAFE teachers who will accompany the group to Lyon, France in September. 

High quality apprentices are coming through

TAFE Queensland SkillsTech General Manager Stephen Gates said TAFE Queensland has long been a strong supporter of WorldSkills Australia and is excited to see how Dylan and Bailey perform alongside this year’s Skillaroos team. 

“Vocational education and training forms an integral part of the Australian education system, and this competition highlights the important role that skilled workers play in our industries and our communities across Australia,” Mr Gates said. 

“TAFE Queensland provides quality training across many industries and strives to deliver skilled workers who can lead Queensland’s economy for generations to come. These highly skilled apprentices and students are key examples of the high-quality graduates produced at TAFE Queensland.” 

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Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.