While most other people were celebrating the incoming New Year, Sam Spong was on a plane on his way to Denmark to train in a bricklaying school there and compete as a guest at that country’s national competition. Sam is Australia’s current WorldSkills Bricklaying champion, having won the National apprenticeship title last year. Sam, from New Berrima, NSW qualified as a Bricklayer last year.
Despite the many differences in our industries, Australia and Denmark have a great rapport and Denmark has built a strong reputation on the back of consistent medals in three of the last four WorldSkills International competitions.
The trip was made possible by the ABBTF World Class Bricklayer Scholarship, awarded to Sam on winning the National. A component of the scholarship is to engage in high level international competition in preparation for WorldSkills International, this year at Sao Paulo, Brazil, in August.
After around 30 hours flying time, Sam arrived in the small town of Hjørring in the North Jutland region of Denmark. Sam trained in the school there which was specifically opened so he could familiarise himself with the products and the project.
The bricks and mortar were very different and the project was far removed from anything Sam had seen before – a type of herring drying oven similar to the pizza oven we have here. All this familiarisation was on top of the inevitable jetlag, language differences and the fact Sam hadn’t flown internationally before.
A few days after the training Sam engaged in a speed test which was modelled on the Australian ‘ABBTF Gun Trowel’ event which is held at our nationals. It was a great chance to meet the Danish competitors and have some fun all while announcing the competition.
I was extremely proud of how Sam performed in the competition. He was very fast and this enabled him to hone in on the technical elements. Sam was very popular and always had a crowd because our style of laying bricks is so different. An important part of the role Sam now has is to be a good ambassador and he was doing really well in this regard too.
After the competition, we reviewed his performance and he had done well but more importantly he had learnt so much from the whole experience. We are now investing a lot of critical feedback into his training which has now stepped up to a new level.
We would like to thank our Danish friends who were so very generous in their hospitality while we were there and also the ABBTF for making the training possible. It will have a great bearing on Sam’s training and ultimately his performance. Only 163 days to go to the International, at the time of writing this!
WorldSkills International Chief Expert – Bricklaying