Skills Olympians face extra challenges on the global stage

Lester Tibbles Medal Shot web

Don’t Miss: Australia’s next National Bricklaying Apprentice champion will be determined at the National WorldSkills Competition taking place in Homebush Sydney from the 30th August to the 1st of September.

The general public are most welcome and entry is free. The bricklaying competition is a highlight of the event and the ABBTF “speed test” at lunchtime on Thursday the 30th of August should not be missed.


Running so close after the Sporting Olympics, it’s interesting to compare the different conditions in the ‘Skills’ Olympics with the sporting games.

For starters, the Olympic Games are run every four years compared to the International WorldSkills Competitions that are run every two, next year’s being in Leipzig Germany.

WorldSkills competitors can only compete in one International Competition and there is an age limit (23 years old for most categories). It’s literally a once in a lifetime opportunity. See the 2012 Australian Regional Bricklaying Champions eligible to compete in the upcoming Nationals here.

Although many sporting competitors need to adapt to local conditions, most tracks and pieces of equipment are very similar. However, the adaptation and adjustment required from WorldSkills competitors is much more intense.

Using bricklaying as an example, bricks sizes vary greatly from country to country as do the mortar materials used to lay them.  Equipment such as bricksaws and profiles are also totally different to what most competitors would be familiar with. Add to this the language barrier if it is a non-English speaking host country, like next year and it magnifies the issue. Terminology can also be tricky, terms such as ‘frog’ and ‘Larry’ do not carry the same meaning in many other bricklaying industries around the world.

ALL the international WorldSkills competitions go for four days. They do not have a heat here and there and then compete for a medal in a short final, the WorldSkills competitors will be competing for 22 hours over four days, most of them in highly physical competitions such as bricklaying.

You will also have noticed that the medal presentations occur during the days of competition in the Olympic Games and the emotion is often overwhelming as the medals are placed over the heads of those that have done so well. Despite these competitors already being aware of their success, it is still a powerful and proud moment.

In the International WorldSkills competition, all the medals are awarded in one medal ceremony a day or so after the competition has ended. No competitor is aware if they have medalled or not. Those that have won the Gold do not know. Can you imagine the reactions from the competitors and all their compatriot supporters as the medallists are announced? There’s nothing quite like it.

Troy Everett,
Bricklaying Category Expert, WorldSkills.
A/Head Teacher – Civil Engineering, Surveying and Mapping
TAFE NSW – Illawarra Institute, Wollongong Campus


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