Jewellery World Skills

Article by Yuki Mathwin

World Skills is like the Olympic games for trades and skills

The best way to describe World Skills is that it’s like the Olympic games for trades and skills, but sadly not as widely recognised in Australia as in other parts of the world. This biennual competition brings together young people who have trained hard in their respective fields to compete against their international counterparts. It aims to promote skills and trades among Australian youth and is a competition that not only celebrates the dedication and talent of young tradespeople but also serves as a platform for engagement within the industry and community.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where trade and apprentice pathways are not as highly regarded as pursuing a professional career through university education. Trades and skilled workers are vital contributors to Australia’s economy and without them, the world as we know it would not exist. World Skills provides a chance for young individuals to excel in their chosen vocational fields, connect with like-minded peers and kickstart their careers. Participation in WorldSkills can be a life-changing experience, offering personal development, increased confidence and opportunities for leadership and mentorship.

The competition begins at the regional level, open to all apprentices, and takes place in a classroom setting. Winners at the regional level progress to the national competition. The best young tradespeople in Australia then represent their country on the international stage, with the 2024 International World Skills event hosted by Lyon, France. The competition described in this article focuses on the national level, which took place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in August this year.

Yuki Mathwin, World Skills

World Skills is not just a competition, but also a show that was open to the general public and people were welcomed to watch competitors perform at their best.

Organising an event of this magnitude is a massive undertaking, with dedicated volunteers investing countless hours in preparation. The competition week is a culmination of hard work, featuring setup, an opening ceremony, intense competition, judging, a closing ceremony, and awards presentation.  World Skills is not just a competition, but also a show that was open to the general public and people were welcomed to watch competitors perform at their best.

In the Jewellery division, nine young competitors from across Australia, each a regional champion, were presented with a project to complete over three days. It was divided into three modules, with the final module allowing for creativity. The competition days were gruelling and the sense of relief and satisfaction of the competitors at the end was celebrated.

As a judge in the jewellery division, the days did not end with the competition. Late nights were spent carefully assessing each piece, considering factors like surface finish, solder joins, similarity to drawings, and measurement accuracy. The goal was to identify skills that met or even exceeded industry standards.

Sponsors play a crucial role in making this competition possible. For example, industry supplier Palloys donated over $60,000 worth of metal, allowing competitors to work with 18ct yellow gold.

World Skills holds a special place in the hearts of those involved. Many having a personal connection to the competition. I personally have had previous involvement with World Skills as a former competitor in 2015. In that year, the second of my apprenticeship, I was judged as runner-up, beaten only by my fellow jeweller here at Abrecht Bird, Eleanor Hawke (then in her third apprenticeship year. Given the opportunity to return as a judge and to be part of this prestigious event is an honour, providing a memorable experience that contributed to both my professional and personal development. I met and worked with inspiring individuals, making WorldSkills one of the many highlights of my career.

Talented Eleanor awarded Gold Medal in the Victoria Worldskill Olympics
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