Apprentice Jared claimed gold at the first ever Regional WorldSkills Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Competition to be held at the Cairns campus.
Jared and seven other competitors studying a Certificate III in Air-conditioning and Refrigeration (UEE32211) took part in the event, vying for the chance to win a gold, silver or bronze medal.
In just five hours, the apprentices used cutting, bending and brazing techniques to create a reverse cycle refrigeration unit, which they then had to charge with refrigerant and test run to industry standards.
As the competition unfolded, Jared hit his straps.
“It was awesome to compete, the whole day was great!” Jared said.
“As part of the competition, we were given minimal materials and tools and we had to use our knowledge from class and from working in the field to construct the unit.”
“The biggest hurdle to face was getting the electrical side of things right. Quite a few of us were stumped and it took a bit to figure it out.”
“I went at my own pace and at about the halfway mark I looked around and realised I was ahead of everyone, so that gave me some confidence.”
“Later in the day when a few of the other apprentices started to catch up it did get a bit stressful, but I just tried to keep a cool head.”
Jared said he could not believe that he came out on top.
“It was a little bit surreal; I never thought I’d win. I was convinced I’d get wiped by the older and more experienced apprentices in the competition, so I was happy with myself,” Jared said.
Apprentice Tyler Donovan took home the silver medal, while Cody Mettam claimed the bronze.
Jared, a second year apprentice at AlphaCool in Port Douglas, said everyone at his workplace was impressed with his win.
"My boss was really pleased, and all the senior tradesmen that I look up to were all quite happy with what I achieved."
Jared said he enjoys combining his on-the-job training with TAFE Queensland studies and industry competitions.
“I like learning about the trade and becoming more knowledgeable so I can be a better technician,” Jared said.
“I love practical lessons, but I also really enjoy the theory side of things as well. There’s no use in just being good with your hands, you have to also be good with your head.”
Following his regional win, Jared is now eligible to be selected to take part in the 2020 WorldSkills Australia National Championships in Melbourne at the Air-conditioning, Refrigeration and Building Services Exhibition (ARBS).
Teacher James Lang said WorldSkills competitions celebrate academic and training excellence, and shine a spotlight on the important role qualified tradespeople play in our everyday lives.
“If your air-conditioning stops working or a restaurant’s commercial walk-in cool room or freezer room is heating up, it becomes clear pretty quickly just how vital an experienced tradesperson is,” James said.
Industry wholesaler Kirby generously supplied the equipment and components for the regional competition, and invited industry leaders from ACTROL, Jackson and Jackson Refrigeration, J&R Refrigeration and VAE judged the students’ work.
The Australian Government’s Department of Jobs and Small Business has revealed a shortage of skilled air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics in regional Queensland, making it an appealing option for career starters or older workers looking for a change.