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WorldSkills carpentry team are ready to nail it come game day

28 July 2023

It’s all hands on deck preparing our WorldSkills Nationals competitors for the competition in Melbourne this year.

Carpentry and Joinery Lecturer Adam Mathews has been working hard for the last six months to prepare his two competitors, Rabia Choolun (Open Carpentry) and Flynn Smith (VETiS Carpentry), for when they hit the big stage in August.

Adam is a firm believer in the skills and abilities of his two students as they prepare for their trip east, but he is no stranger to the hard work and commitment required to bring home the gold in this competition. In 2021, Adam’s VETiS student took out gold at the national competition, and he is hoping his students can replicate that this year in both the VETiS and open categories.

As part of their road to WorldSkills, the team of three, with the additional support from Cabinet Making Lecturer and past WorldSkills international competitor Nick Johnston, have been working hard behind the scenes practising the tasks and projects they may face come competition time.

Adam explained that all the competitors receive similar project briefs they can use to train with. These projects are changed by approximately 30% for the competition day.

“The projects are next level. There is lots of geometry involved, so they are pretty tricky,” Adam said, “it’s sorting out the best from the best for sure."

Flynn has already constructed a full-size model of his training project, and Rabia has built a half-scale model. With only a few weeks left, Rabia is now working on creating the full-size model at home. Rabia and Flynn will complete the construction one final time under simulated competition conditions to finish their training.

Adam’s passion for his students and craft shines through in his commitment to them and their success. Adam worked in industry before coming to SR TAFE as a lecturer, but he said he loves mentoring and training the young women and men who represent our college and themselves to such a very high standard.

Although, at times, it has been a testing training camp for both lecturers and competitors, Adam is confident his students will be more than prepared to go at it alone in August.

“Flynn is one of the biggest standout VETiS students I have seen in the last seven years of lecturing at TAFE, and he has solid family support, which is an integral part”, Adam said.

“Rabia performs well under pressure, so I don’t think she’ll crack. I think she’ll thrive on the big stage. She is meticulous in what she does, so she will have a strategy in place.”

Adam is grateful for the support he and all the staff who volunteer to be involved in WorldSkills have received from TAFE.

“In my particular area, the support and vested interest from Anita Host [Training Manager], Alison O’Neill [Training Operations Coordinator], Yvette Groenheide [Principal Lecturer], and Chelsea Reweti [Administration Officer Trades] has been unwavering,” Adam said.

As well as carrying the torch as mentor and lecturer for Flynn and Rabia, this year, Adam will also be filling the shoes of proud dad as his daughter Mercedes will compete in the VETiS Food & Beverage category.

Mercedes won gold at the regional competition and has been working hard on training with her lecturer Johnese Mullen over the last few months. Adam knows Mercedes will be just as prepared as Flynn and Rabia come game day.

“She doesn’t need dad. It’s a go on, away you go sort of scenario. Have fun, bring back a medal,” Adam joked.

WorldSkills is a monumental event for all the students, lecturers, training organisations, and schools involved. Sometimes even being referred to as the skills Olympics, it really is the biggest showcase of industry excellence and trades skills.

“It’s raising the bar a little bit higher. That’s what it’s all about,” Adam said. “The students love it because it’s taking them to the next level. They really engage with it.”

The WorldSkills nationals competition will take place from 17 August to 19 August at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

You can see the whole South Regional TAFE Team WA competitors list here.