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Students competing on the world stage

Five TAFE Queensland students have been selected to represent Australia in their vocation on the Skillaroos team travelling to the WorldSkills International Competition in Lyon, France.

Five TAFE Queensland students are preparing to represent Australia in their respective study areas in Lyon, France at the 2024 WorldSkills International Competition, set to be the biggest skills competition ever with more than 1,500 competitors representing 75 countries.

Having been selected for the team – known as the Skillaroos – following their performances at the WorldSkills Australia National Championships in Melbourne last August, TAFE Queensland’s students will vie for international glory in the Electrical Installation, Fashion Technology, Cookery, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, and Restaurant Service categories.

Hailing from the Gold Coast are two of TAFE Queensland’s apprentices, Abbey Kuhnell and Dylan Redman, competing in the Cookery and Electrical Installation categories, respectively, after each taking home a gold medal from the 2023 National Championships.

Reflecting on his first-place achievement, Dylan said nothing can compare to winning the gold medal for Electrical Installation at the WorldSkills Australian National championships.

“The nerves, the butterflies, the anxiety, all built up to that one moment, hearing my name being called to receive the gold medal. It really was a dream come true and I will never forget that moment,” he said.

They are joined by Sari Conte and Bailey Loenneker from the Sunshine Coast, competing in the Fashion Technology and Refrigeration and Air Conditioning categories, respectively, after their own successful trips to the National Championships.

Prior to the National Championships in August, Sari said that gold medal success would be welcome but just a bonus after a journey which has propelled her career.

"I'm prepared to win, but if I don't, what I’ve gained from the experience and extra tuition is a prize in itself," she said. Sari is set to carry the same attitude into the competition in France – often considered the home nation of fashion.

Rounding out the competitors representing TAFE Queensland and the nation is Elliana ‘Elli’ McRae from Brisbane, who took out gold in the Restaurant Service category at the National Championships and is looking forward to challenging herself against the world’s best.

Elli has fulfilled her own prophecy from the weeks following her win at the National Championships, now packing her bags for mainland Europe and the call of international glory.

"I want to explore hospitality and see what level I can get to because the industry has many different levels. I've heard Europe is the place to be for hospitality, so hopefully, I'll get there one day and see what they have to offer," she said.

TAFE Queensland – SkillsTech General Manager Stephen Gates said TAFE Queensland has long been a strong supporter of WorldSkills Australia and is excited to see Queensland well represented again in this year’s Skillaroos team.

“Vocational Education and Training forms an integral piece of the Australian education system and this competition highlights the important role that skilled workers play in our industries and our communities across Australia,” Mr Gates said.

“TAFE Queensland provides quality training across many industries and strives to deliver the skilled workers that can lead Queensland’s economy for generations to come, and these highly-skilled apprentices and students are key examples of the high-quality graduates produced at TAFE Queensland,” he said.

Travelling with the Skillaroos will be a range of Skills Experts from across Australia, recognised as the foremost expert in their industry, and three TAFE Queensland teachers have been assigned this honour for this year’s competition in Lyon.

Elankayer Sithirasenan, Carl Balke, and Deborah Smith will be mentoring and supporting competitors in the Cloud Computing, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, and Restaurant Service categories, respectively, taking time away from their teaching duties at their home campuses in Coomera, South Bank, and Acacia Ridge.