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GOTAFE apprentice wins gold at WorldSkills

GOTAFE Air-conditioning and Refrigeration apprentice Ryan Hayes has been selected to participate in the National WorldSkills Competition in 2023 following a gold medal win at the Regional WorldSkills Competition in August.

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Ryan was amongst three apprentices from GOTAFE who competed in the Regional WorldSkills Competition in Melbourne.

Ryan’s passion for refrigeration developed after working with family in the industry. Originally, Ryan had wanted to become a sparkie, but after a little encouragement, he did work experience as a refrigeration mechanic with a relative and hasn’t looked back since.

GOTAFE Apprentice Ryan Hayes and Traine Dave Smalldon

“It’s a great trade – it encompasses a lot of different trades into one,” he said.

“It’s really diverse, which is why I love it.”

Ryan has enjoyed the networking opportunities posed by WorldSkills and is looking forward to using his new skills out in the industry.

“It helps to network with people you otherwise mightn’t have crossed paths with,” he said.

“WorldSkills also teaches you to think on the go and be a bit quicker and neater with your work.”

GOTAFE apprentices worked extremely well under pressure as they competed against students from Bendigo TAFE (Central Victorian Region), RMIT and Box Hill (Metro Region).

The competitors were required to complete three different tasks, including building a can cooler from scratch, finding and resolving a refrigeration and electrical fault within an eight-hour time frame.

“It allows you to see where you’re at and challenge yourself,” Ryan said.

“It’s not all about going down there to win, I certainly didn’t expect to win – I was just going down to see where I was at and try and learn a few things I can use on the job.

“I’d definitely encourage others to go and have a crack and see where they’re at – especially if you’re as interested in what you do as I am.”

Dave Smalldon has been a Trainer and Assessor in Air Con and Refrigeration at GOTAFE since November 2021, but has over 30 years of experience in industry.

Dave said there are several benefits for students who take part in the competition.

“I love seeing students progress,” he said.

“WorldSkills broadens their horizons. It also puts [the students] into perspective with other states and students who are studying the same trades.

“The support that GOTAFE has given us has been tremendous, and without that it wouldn’t have been possible.”

Learn more about WorldSkills