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Elijah prepares to complete at WorldSkills Australia National Championships

Gympie cabinetmaking apprentice Elijah Allen is preparing to demonstrate his skills on a national stage, with the 19-year-old among 73 of Queensland’s top trainees and apprentices representing the state at the 2021 WorldSkills Australia National Championships in Brisbane from 26-28 August.

Elijah – a third-year apprentice employed by Gympie cabinet making business Akyrah Kitchens – has been selected to represent the state at Australia’s biggest vocational education and skills competition, where he will compete against the best cabinet making apprentices from right across the country.

Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions in place around Australia, this year the Championships will be contested within four states – Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland – with the national gold, silver and bronze medallists to be announced at the end of the two-day competition.

The Championships were originally postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19 related impacts. The extra time has given competitors more training time to perfect their skills and ready themselves ahead of competing on a national stage.

Speaking from the workshop at TAFE Queensland’s Nambour campus where he has been sharpening his skills by building a mind-bending floating coffee table for one of his Certificate III in Cabinet Making (MSF31113) training assessments, Elijah said he is looking forward to putting his skills to the test.

“I was a little surprised that I was selected, but I feel a big sense of pride that my work is high enough in quality for me to be selected,” Elijah said.

“I’m looking forward to just meeting more people who love the art that I do and who are just as good at it or even better."

“I’m a little nervous about it, but I’m also really excited and keen because it could open up new doors for me. It will put my name out there and if I do well and impress people, it could set me up for my future.”

Elijah first developed an interest in cabinet making after undertaking woodwork in high school, but it was his work experience with Akyrah Kitchens that inspired him to pursue it as a career.

“I remember the first thing I built was a little wooden truck. It wasn’t as good as what it could have been but I found that I enjoyed making it,” he said.

“The next project I did was a little pencil box and I put a lot more effort into that one. I just really love the fine art side of it (cabinet making) – it’s extremely precise and has to be perfect because if you mess it up, you have to start again."

“I just enjoy being in the workshop and doing my own thing – it’s like my escape and my passion.”

After completing his work experience and impressing Akyrah Kitchens, Elijah was offered an apprenticeship.

Elijah now works full time building and installing kitchens, studies and laundries with Akyrah, but continues to hone his skills in solid timber by making furniture as a hobby – something he hopes to expand on in the future.

“My goal – even just as a side business – is to start my own business in solid timbers, going back to basics and the real fine art,” Elijah said.

“During my time at TAFE Queensland, I’ve really enjoyed working with solid timbers and having access to the machinery to do it."

“I wasn’t sure how my recent floating table project was going to go but it’s turned out amazing – I’m very impressed with myself. If you put your mind to it, you can do anything.”

This year, over 400 competitors from 34 Australian regions will vie for the title of ‘National Champion’ in simulated work environments during the competition. Competitors will compete in a range of different skills areas including hairdressing, bricklaying, fashion, plumbing, heavy vehicle mechanics, electrical installation, information technology, retail butchery and cookery — just to name a few.

Queenslanders who are successful at the National Championships may be asked to travel to Shanghai, in China to compete as part of the Australian Skillaroos Team. The 46th WorldSkills International Competition is planned to be held in August 2022.

WorldSkills Australia Queensland Manager Eric Davis has been involved with the Championships since 2003 and said he was once again excited to see the Queensland team test their skills against Australia’s best.

“Each year, the Championships provide competitors with the opportunity to practice and perfect their skill area in a supportive environment then test their skills against their industry peers,” Eric said.

“Participating also provides competitors with the chance to develop important relationships within their industry Australia-wide."

“By the end of the Championships, competitors are more confident in themselves and have a greater understanding of their skill area and industry. Most importantly they bring this confidence and knowledge back to their workplace to benefit their employers, work colleagues and their industry.”

To follow the competition visit the WorldSkills Australia website or to find out how you can get involved, call the WorldSkills Queensland Office on 07 3244 0230.